The City of Mayawati
Officially or even informally there is no city that was either built by Mayawati, the BSP Supremo and former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh or there is any city where she has lived for generations. She only resided in Lucknow because she is BSP supremo and former chief minister. So Lucknow continues to be known as the City of Nawabs—since several generations of them lived in the city after making it the Capital of Oudh. They built some monuments which are architecturally marvellous; its roomi darwaza even now makes architects wonder how symmetry was maintained without sextant. Wajid Ali Shah, the last of the Nawabs, made it capital of Lucknow gharana of kathak and ‘created’ Thumri which inspired Kalka and Binda din to produce world famous Ballads.
After his arrest by the British, Lucknow, went through a period of isolation and neglect, people forlorn, as Allahabad thrived as the capital, of the ‘United Provinces of Oudh and Agra. It was only after the capital was shifted by the British from Allahabad to Lucknow that the spotlight was back on it.
The British however left most of the older part of the City to age, which enjoyed special attention of the Nawabs who also lived in that part. The British concentrated on building new areas for their own convenience. Hazratgunj, which is the ‘living room’ of ninety per cent of Lucknowallahs, was built by them for Burra sahebs to shop without rubbing shoulders with the ‘natives’. Come Yuletide season, Hazratganj was declared out of bounds—from December 20 toJanuary 5—for all Indians. This is the period when Tommies from Cantonment, just 4 km away, would come to Hazratganj to revel, enjoy the leave for X-mas.
Many would fall down drunk, many would puke, and the Burra Sahebs did not want ‘subjects’ to see their rulers in the raw. The cantonment was really set up as an important chain in the deployment of the Army from Kolkata’s Fort Williams to Amritsar. It was left to Mayawati to rejuvenate and beautify the City. By refurbishing the City, she reignited pride in the new people about their City. It can now compete with the best of cities of its class in India. Four-lane well-laid streets, brightly lit throughout along with trees, turning many roads into Avenues, landscaped parks, and total kaya-kalp of Hazartganj, the city seem to have been re-born. And it isMayawati, who guided the metamorphosis from a stale, languorous city to the swanky, modern, dazzling, clean city. Ready for all classes of travellers.