Adityanath has wasted his astounding mandate
The government has failed in the areas of agriculture, health care, women safety, media freedom, and economyUpdated: Sep 22, 2019 19:06 IST
The Yogi Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government completes half its term this month. Whenever the BJP has been at the helm of affairs in Uttar Pradesh, governance has suffered. Despite the extremely low standards the BJP sets for itself, it is inexplicable how the present government has achieved so little, and transgressed on so much.
Across sectors, the imprints of poor governance are visible. Let us take, for example, farmers. The government started with waiving farmers’ loans, and generously waived 19 paise and other similarly small amounts. At the same time, other dues to farmers kept rising. Earlier this season, the dues to sugarcane farmers rose up to Rs 10,000 crore.
Paddy and wheat farmers are beset with a crash in prices and administrative neglect. In 2018, the government procured only 7% of wheat. On 99% of the procurement days, the market price was below the Minimum Support Price. Vegetable farmers have met with a similar fate.
The menace of stray cattle has added to the distress. Farmers have locked up cattle in schools while students are forced to stay out.
It is a serious dereliction of duty when a government is apathetic towards the well-being of children. Nearly 50% children in Uttar Pradesh are stunted while 40% are underweight. Yet, the government does not flinch when children are fed sub-standard meals. Post the 2017 Gorakhpur tragedy — in which more than 100 children lost their lives in a matter of hours — we sincerely hoped things would change for the better. But exactly a year later, children in Bahraich died due to an “unknown” fever.
Uttar Pradesh is the worst performing state in the health care index prepared by Niti Aayog. Compared to 2015-16, it remains one of the few states to have witnessed a worsening health care situation.
The poor performance in health care is outdone by the (lack of) law and order. As many as 80 people have been killed in encounters. Even the police isn’t safe. Who can forget the ghastly murder of inspector Subodh Kumar at the hands of a mob in Bulandshahr?
Crimes against women peaked soon after the BJP took over. Within a year of BJP misrule, there were rape cases being reported every three hours. Unnao and other cases proved that under the Yogi government, the accused are protecting, while the victims and their families are punished.
Dalits and adivasis have been vehemently attacked, and when they seek the protection of the law, they are faced with an unjust administration. When Congress general secretary, Priyanka Gandhi, sought a meeting with the families of those who had been massacred at Sonbhadra, the administration answered by arresting her instead. The state government could have focused its energies on checking atrocities against the poor, but it was concerned with tormenting those demanding justice.
This obsession with subverting truth and justice is fast becoming a norm. Journalists and anyone else reporting the truth are regularly harassed. The hounding of Pawan Jaiswal — the reporter who broke the story of namak-roti being served to children as the midday meal in a Mirzapur school — reflects the insecurities of the Yogi government. It feels like the government has come to realise its inability at governance, and, now, wants to focus full-time on containing all negative news.
This would have been easier had the government not been so hell-bent on destruction. Demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax broke the back of UP’s industries and the vast unorganised sector. The state government chose to not help businesses. Across all regions and businesses — be it the brass works of Moradabad, the carpet industry of Bhadohi and Mirzapur, or the weavers of Varanasi and Mau — one witnesses gloom and doom. It is hardly a surprise that unemployment has increased five times under the Yogi government. When the BJP took over in March 2017, the unemployment rate was 2.4%. By August 2019, this had increased to 12.3%.
Varanasi’s rich cultural heritage has been laid to waste as hundreds of temples and ancient houses continue to be razed in an attempt to modernise the historic city, through the ill-conceived Kashi-Vishwanath Corridor project.
The Adityanath government has wasted its astounding mandate. It has presided over unimaginable misgovernance, brought an unprecedented despondency to the state, vehemently worked towards weakening democracy, and sought to dismantle the fabled Ganga-Jamuni tahzeeb.
Two-and-a-half years have done enough damage. We can only hope things get better from here. But will they?
The views expressed are personal