Yogi government 2.0: Bulldozers on a roll again in Uttar Pradesh
The bulldozers that helped shape the narrative for 2022 UP polls have been roaring frequently, razing structures of the mafia and pulling down encroachments
The bulldozers are expectedly back in Uttar Pradesh under the Yogi government 2.0.
Since March 25, the day the Yogi government was sworn in for a second term, these machines that helped shape the narrative for 2022 UP polls have been roaring frequently, razing structures of the mafia and pulling down encroachments. In one instance, they even demolished the property of a former cop, who is a murder accused.
The bulldozers were on display from March 10 itself, the day when BJP became the first party in 37 years to notch up a second successive win in assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.
Since bulldozers were a part of the BJP’s poll narrative, the party’s spectacular win, has largely been interpreted in the corridors of power as proof that “baba’s bulldozer” had people’s backing.
In fact, on March 10, soon after it became clear that BJP was all set for a second innings, the party’s Gorakhpur MP Ravi Kishan said the bulldozers that had been given for overhauling are set to resume work while Yogi Adityanath’s media advisor Mrityunjay Kumar shared a song sung by Chanchal Banjara titled, “Baba bulldozerwala” which was set to the tune of “jeet gaya baba bulldozer wala (the bulldozer baba has won).” During Holi that followed the BJP win, “bulldozer pichkaris” were in great demand.
“The bulldozer symbolises demolishing negativity to pave the way for growth and hope,” Mrityunjay said.
The Uttar Pradesh government claims so far about “800 criminals” have surrendered in the state.
Now, it appears that the ground is being prepared for a concerted action against the mafia.
The state’s home department would hold a video conference of all the district magistrates, superintendents of police as well as various prosecution officers on April 13, in which action taken against 25 top mafias would be assessed.
“The review would also include prosecution of those behind crime against women, against children, against unscrupulous people who are into the illegal and illicit liquor trade,” said additional chief secretary (home) Awanish Awasthi who admitted that bulldozers have helped instil fear among criminals.
“Unlike in the past, when it would take ages to convict the mafia, now action is prompt. We have the requisite powers to act under the Gangsters’ Act, which is invoked against these elements,” he said.
Awasthi, who held the same position in Yogi’s first government, said, “Last time, ill-gotten property worth ₹2000 crore of the mafia and other criminal elements had been confiscated in two years. This time we have set a target of confiscating ₹500 crore worth of such property in 100 days.”
The properties that are either being confiscated or demolished are to be used for a good cause, BJP lawmakers said.
“The government is constructing houses that will be given to the poor on such land that is freed from the mafia. At Asrawal Kalan, a place in my constituency, 400 such houses for the poor have been built under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana,” said BJP MLA from Allahabad (West) Sidharth Nath Singh, a former minister.
The opposition, of course, is busy picking holes in the government’s “bulldozer” theory.
“These bulldozers are crushing the people. Propagated by the BJP as a symbol of the government’s action against criminals, it only showcases an insensitive government that is treating the people cruelly. In a democracy, such approach is inhuman,” Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav has been stating.
In adjoining Bihar too, leaders of Rashtriya Janata Dal have been targeting the Yogi government’s approach against criminals. “What is this Yogi model? What is this talk of bulldozer baba? Why has this bulldozer not been able to demolish unemployment and poverty,” RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav asked. However, such criticism hasn’t made any difference in UP where the government has continued with its drive against the mafia. Encroachments, too, are being demolished.
The district administration recently demolished an encroachment, including a shop and a cattle yard on the premises of divisional government hospital in Azamgarh, the former Lok Sabha constituency of Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav who resigned as a LS MP after winning the assembly polls from Karhal assembly segment of Mainpuri. In Bareilly, bulldozers demolished property built by Samajwadi Party MLA Shazil Islam Ansari who was booked for provocative remarks against Adityanath.
In Lucknow, the Lucknow Development Authority recently ordered demolition of three-storeyed house in Chinhat belonging to former police inspector Jagat Narayan Singh. Jagat is in jail in connection with the murder case of Kanpur based businessman Manish Gupta.
On March 15, soon after the BJP win, Gautam Singh, accused in many cases of kidnapping and extortion surrendered at Chapla police station in Gonda. Over two dozen criminals also surrendered before the police in Saharanpur. Liquor smugglers surrendered in Deoband and Shamli.
In Pratapgarh, a rape accused surrendered before the police days after he allegedly committed the crime. The police had parked a bulldozer outside his house and threatened to raze it if he didn’t surrender.