For some time now, we've been witnessing a sustained attempt, through the media, to malign Uttar Pradesh by alleging anarchy and chaos in that state. Rajeev Shukla's article on the state of affairs in Uttar Pradesh (From Uttar Pradesh to Rogue State, July 16) comes at a time when facts show his opinion to be baseless and, to an extent, ludicrous. His exasperation is nothing but the upshot of his party's 17 years of exile from UP's governance.
The concerns raised about law and order, governance and development must be genuine, but it is preposterous to use selective information to blame the UP government. First, the state of growth and development in UP is too obvious to be camouflaged by a fertile imagination or wishful thinking. Second, it exposes the author's double standards - the benchmark of economic development shows that UP is surging ahead under Mulayam Singh Yadav's leadership.
The UP government made history when it presented a surplus annual budget on time and after 19 years of sustained revenue deficit. Inspector raj was abolished, and the government did not implement Vat despite pressure from the Centre providing relief to traders and yet managing a record collection of taxes. This development has vindicated Mulayam Singh's image as champion of the weaker sections.
Shukla's allegations about industrial stagnation in the state are baseless. The measures adopted by the government in various sectors like agriculture, roads, health and education are showing their efficacy. According to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (Ministry of Commerce), UP is the number one state in terms of Letters of Intent (Rs 1,70,181 crore) received for investment in the current financial year. Numerous corporate houses are also investing in various areas like power-generation, health and the social sector.
As far as agriculture is concerned, the government has paid a record amount of Rs 18,172 crore to sugarcane farmers within 30 months of coming to power, which is considered to be the most profitable price in the decade. It has cleared arrears of the previous regimes to the amount of Rs 1,771 crore. Between 2004 and 2006, the price of sugarcane was increased up to Rs 20 per quintal, which resulted in sugarcane farmers receiving an additional benefit of Rs 1,103 crore. The state has witnessed a record production of more than 57.6 lakh tonnes of sugar and investment in this industry has surged to Rs 7,000 crore. Apart from sugarcane, wheat and potatoes fetched the maximum price and for the first time, Daseri mangoes made their way to the Japanese market. This shows the success of the ruling party in addressing the concerns of the farming community.
The observation on power shortages and alleged favouritism towards the Chief Minister's constituency is disproved by the fact that UP holds the top position in the country for the maximum number of villages electrified in a year. An average of 16 villages are being electrified every day, with a total of 6,000 villages already electrified in the previous year.
The government has also announced an allowance of Rs 500 every month to unemployed graduates and under-graduates registered with the employment exchange. Further, the ambitious Kanya Vidya Dhan Yojana has been implemented to provide opportunities to girl students to pursue higher studies. The state government has asked the Centre to double the conversion cost per student under the mid-day meal scheme to ensure nutritious food for the students. It had succeeded in ensuring hundred per cent admission at the primary level and had appointed one lakh teachers and shiksha-mitras to meet the shortage of teachers. The government's initiatives have been appreciated by the Planning Commission, which is reflected in the state being allotted additional funds in this sector.
Shukla's comment on lawlessness is derived from the unfortunate killing of Meher Bhargava by some anti-social elements. If the same logic were extended, how would the Congress-led central government explain the vulnerability of women in the national capital? In UP, incidents like kidnapping and extortion have been relegated to history as all the major notorious gangs of dacoits have been liquidated, and peace has been restored in the ravines of Chambal, Betwa and Yamuna.
It's sad that Shukla has displayed a myopic view of social and political empowerment of hitherto marginalised sections of the society. Any republican and democrat would agree with the contribution of the Mulayam Singh government in ending the unjust patron-client model of governance of the Congress party.
The present situation presents a challenge to the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh, given the earlier attempts of the Congress to dislodge it on frivolous grounds. The UP government has provided no logical and justifiable issue for opposition parties like the BJP, the Congress and the BSP to rake up an agitation. Thus their obvious disgruntlement.
The writer is a Samajwadi Party MP