The growing number of the “lal battis walas”(those enjoying the status of Minister of State rank accorded by the state government) is proving to be a headache not only for UP Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav and his government but also for the Samajwadi Party, which is encountering deep resentment over the issue.
Nearly 100 SP leaders, supporters and associates of senior party leaders have been granted “lal battis” during the past one year alone. And the burgeoning numbers have placed a heavy burden on the state’s exchequer since a majority of the “lal battis” have been posted in the PSUs, academies and directorates, which are in the red. The situation had come to such a pass that Chief Secretary(CS) Javed Usmani was forced to review the situation. Moreover, the CS directed the Finance Department to outsource the staff to satisfy the demands of these “VIPs”. He had also asked the Principal Secretary (Finance) to send him a proposal of their estimated expenses so that he could get the matter cleared by the Chief Minister.
Interestingly, the “lal batti” practice is mainly confined to UP and Uttarakhand, where the Chief Minister obliges party workers, associates and acolytes to give them a feel of being a VIP. As a result, hundreds of such people, who are neither MPs nor MLAs, are accorded the status of Minister of State (MoS)by the government in the two states. Also, the party in power resorts to the practice to ensure the continued loyalty of its rank and file. However, most of the time it had led to heartburn among the party workers and hence had proved divisive.
And the Akhilesh Government has been doling out “lal battis” to the workers in a whimsical manner. A clear instance of this is Unnao, where the SP has no less than six MLAs. But none of them have been given the minister’s rank.