When poor Indian villagers were asked to clean up before politician’s visit

S. N. M. Abdi
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Government officials in India's Uttar Pradesh province distributed soap, shampoo and perfume among impoverished villagers so that they could clean themselves and smell good when they met the visiting Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath.

The Musahars, a backward community known for catching and eating rats in Kushinagar district of Uttar Pradesh, were specifically ordered to have a proper bath and use perfume to make themselves presentable for the VVIP.


Adityanath, a Hindu hardliner who many perceive as a possible successor of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recently visited Kushnigar’s Mainpur village to launch the state government’s vaccination campaign against Encephalitis. According to media reports, the entire village was spruced up by the local administration ahead of the CM’s visit.

The Kushinagar episode made headlines as it came on the heels of another controversy involving Adityanath and his underprivileged subjects who usually struggle to make ends meet in India’s politically most significant state.

The scandal broke when officials installed an air-conditioner and placed a sofa and carpet in the village home of a soldier who was killed on the India-Pakistan border. Prem Sagar, the Border Security Force constable, belonged to UP’s Deoria district where his body was taken for cremation. Officials made the special arrangements in Sagar’s modest home ahead of Adityanath’s visit to pay his condolences to the martyr’s survivors.

Officials, however, promptly removed the air-conditioner, sofa and carpet within an hour of the CM’s departure after handing Sagar’s family a cheque for Rupees 400,000.

VVIP facilities

Questioned by newsmen, officials were not at all apologetic. They said that they were duty-bound to put in place “facilities that a VVIP like the CM is accustomed to” – and the amenities were dismantled and removed after they had served their purpose.

What happened in Deoria and Kushnigar highlight the gulf of difference in the living standards of ordinary Indians – who comprise the bulk of the population – and elected politicians who live in the lap of luxury usually at state expense.

One of the biggest indicators of primitive living conditions is open air defecation which is a health hazard but the country can’t muster enough resources to build toilets for everyone. This is a huge paradox as New Delhi demands membership of the United Nation Security Council and launches satellites into space.

The most shocking aspect of India’s backwardness is how the rich and powerful thumb their nose at the nation’s poor.

When UP Health Minister, Ashutosh Tandon, recently visited S. N. Medical College in Agra, authorities ordered patients – including those in critical condition – to leave the overcrowded wards for “three to four” hours so that Tandon could inspect all the facilities in peace. Patients stood under the scorching sun while the minister carried out the inspection.

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