Adding to a distressing sequence of stirring the communal pot in the country is BJP MP Vinay Katiyar’s comment that the Taj Mahal would soon become the “Tej Mandir”. While a lone legislator’s eccentric remark may mean little in terms of such preposterous ideas being entertained officially, the damage this does to communal harmony is most worrisome. Yogi Adityanath’s UP government may also be suspected to be the power behind influencing the decision to open the 10-day Taj Mahotsav in Agra, near India’s most famous monument, with a dance drama on Lord Ram this year. This of course is one way to display power in a continuous effort at one-upmanship over the history of the region and the never-ending quest to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya.
The saffronisation of issues in sensitive Uttar Pradesh is an ongoing process. Adding another dollop of controversy to this was a senior IPS officer, UP’s Home Guards DG, reportedly taking a pledge for early Ram temple construction. He may now be backtracking with claims that his words were misinterpreted, but it’s clear the officer is in serious breach of rules and regulations governing those in government service. Merely asking him for an explanation is like treating gross indiscipline with kid gloves. No officer of high rank can treat service regulations with such disdain. While they have the right to hold their own view on any matter, no one in the administration can be so openly political in public. Such flagrant breach of the apolitical status of civil servants or military personnel shouldn’t be allowed to go unpunished.