Lucknow: A la Tamil Nadu, a temple is coming up in Uttar Pradesh, dedicated to Mulayam Singh Yadav. A 'Samajwadi Chalisa' - for the Samajwadi Party - is already out. The temple could be ready by the time the Samajwadi Party completes a year in office in March 2013.
The state's information and public relations departments are in an overdrive, running advertisement campaigns in the print and audio-visual media. It was on November 22, Yadav's 74th birthday, that the foundation was laid for a temple for the party's "supreme deity".
The temple is being constructed by party secretary Rajesh Saini at Nagla Mali in Aligarh district. Saini says the money for the temple was collected through donations from the public. The land was offered gratis by the villagers. "There is a movement to construct a 'bhavya' (grand) temple of Netaji," Saini said, referring to Yadav's sobriquet.
Mulayam's son and UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav distancing himself from the temple issue said the party is opposed to it.
"We are neither misusing government funds nor forcibly demanding money. The temple is being built in keeping with the sentiments of the 'jan manas' (masses)," Saini added. The estimated cost of the temple is Rs 11 lakh. It will house a life-size statue of the wrestler-turned-politician Yadav.
Party sources confirmed that an order would soon be placed for a white marble statue in Rajasthan. The one state where similar temples have come up for actors and political veterans is Tamil Nadu. An architect has been hired to design the temple, which will have a 'sanctum sanctorum', a waiting room and an open hall to accommodate devotees.
Samajwadi Party spokesman Rajendra Chowdhary said, "I am told the temple is being built by some party workers at their own expense." A "Samajwadi Chalisa" is being written by Kamta Prasad Keshri, a practitioner of homeopathic medicine who claims to be enamoured by "Netaji's style of functioning".
The composition of the 59-year-old doctor from Mirzapur is finding many takers. Some Samajwadi Party workers feel they have a right to "sing paeans to their party leaders". The Chalisa, comprising 40 verses and modelled on Hanuman Chalisa, was recently printed and distributed in Mirzapur and at party office on November 22, coinciding with Yadav's birthday.
Keshri, who prefers to call himself a 'sanket kavi', a poet of nuance, said that while he has written satire and other forms of poetry, this was the first time he had composed a chalisa for a political party. The "Samajwadi Chalisa" was composed when the Samajwadi Party stormed back to power some eight months ago.
Keshri said he would continue to compose poetry on Mulayam Singh and his son, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. "My aim is to ensure that the SP gets maximum seats from UP in the Lok Sabha polls. I will do everything I can with my pen to make that happen," Keshri said. Keshri's earlier compositions include 'Mera Bharat Mahaan' and 'Devi Durga'.
UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav appeared to distance himself from sycophancy. He said he disapproved of the temple, "If such a temple is being built, even by an individual, the party is opposed to it."