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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

100 days of Yogi: Adityanath establishes writ as Modi keeps watch on UP

Unlike the Samajwadi Party regime, often mocked for having four-and-a-half chief ministers, it is clear that there would be only one boss in Uttar Pradesh: Yogi Adityanath.

india Updated: Jun 27, 2017 15:04 IST
Prashant Jha and Umesh Raghuvanshi
Prashant Jha and Umesh Raghuvanshi
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
PM Modi and Yogi Adityanath as he was sworn-in as the Uttar Pradesh CM.
PM Modi and Yogi Adityanath as he was sworn-in as the Uttar Pradesh CM.(Ashok Dutta/HT File Photo)

Soon after taking over as chief minister, Yogi Adityanath noticed something amiss. His deputy CM, and the party state president, Keshav Prasad Maurya, had occupied the CM’s office on the fifth floor — Pancham Tal as it is known in UP power corridors — of Lal Bahadur Shastri Bhawan (Annexe) and got his name plate fixed there.

This was where Akhilesh Yadav had worked out of during his tenure at the state’s top job.

Maurya may have been under the impression that the new CM would sit in another office, Lok Bhawan, the newly constructed secretariat. But Yogi was not one to leave space. He got it politely conveyed to Maurya’s office that he should vacate Shastri Bhawan, and shift to Vidhan Bhawan. Yogi’s name plate was placed at Pancham Tal, and the CM was prompt to reoccupy the space.

It was a minor incident but it sent a clear signal. Unlike the Samajwadi Party regime, often mocked for having four-and-a-half chief ministers, there would be only one boss in UP: Yogi Adityanath.

Read | 100 days of Yogi: Adityanath falters on law and order promise in Uttar Pradesh as crime spikes

The authority of the CM thus established, Yogi got down to work. 100 days later, there are initial signs of what governance in UP looks like — a CM who is a man of detail, who is keen to micro manage, but who is yet to evolve a clear equation with the bureaucracy. While being the boss, he is under close check — for the Centre and the BJP are both very closely monitoring Lucknow’s governance.

The Yogi focus

Yogi’s governance style broadly centres around two key elements — mass contact and very close attention to policy detail across ministries.

He has instituted a mass contact programme, where citizens come up with complaints. Ministers and officials have to listen to it, and notes are sent out to concerned departments. A district official says, “He takes it seriously. I have also got follow up messages from the chief minister’s office (CMO) on whether action has been taken.”


In Saharanpur, a communal skirmish led to protestsand tension recently. (HT FILE)
ALL THE CM’s MEN Yogi is relying on officials brought in from Delhi:
SP Goel: principal secretary to chief minister
Awaneesh Awasthi: principal secretary, information
Prashant Trivedi: principal secretary, medical and health
Alok Kumar: principal secretary, energy
Rajiv Kumar: likely to be appointed chief secretary of Uttar Pradesh to replace incumbent Rahul Bhatnagar
For Law and order: Arvind Kumar - principal secretary, Home
Sulkhan Singh: DGP
  • Loan waiver to small and marginal farmers
  • Cuts down on government holidays
  • Free power connections to poor and improvement in electricity supply
  • Anti Land Mafia Task Force
  • Close coordination with central govt on implementation of schemes
  • Law and order
  • Caste clashes, particularly Saharanpur
  • Anti Romeo squads descending to moral policing
  • Crackdown on slaughter houses disrupting livelihoods and supply
  • Missing deadline of Pot-hole free roads in the entire state by June 15, 2017
(From left) Deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma, deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya, Siddharth Nath Singh, the health minister, Shrikant Sharma, the power minister, Rita Bahuguna Joshi, women and child welfare minister

But while this served optics, Yogi’s primary focus in the initial weeks was meetings across government, for he may have been a five-term MP, but lacked administrative experience.

“He first had all departments make presentations to him in the initial days, and got a sense of their functioning and schemes. Then he held divisional meetings and has already visited 17 out of 18 divisions,” a CMO official says. This period also saw delivery of some of the BJP’s manifesto promises, from anti-Romeo squads to crackdown on slaughter houses, from farm-loan waiver to increase in electricity supply.

In all this though, Yogi’s equation with the bureaucracy did not entirely settle. He is attentive, he carefully looks at files, he even wants to micro manage but paradoxically for such an involved CM, he has not been able to create a strong CMO.

“The CM, wary that sections of bureaucracy have been allied with either Samajwai Party or Bahujan Samaj Party, cannot quite trust anyone and he held back from selecting officers initially,” says a Lucknow bureaucrat.

Like he is not sure of them, bureaucrats do not quite know what to make of him. An official told HT, “CM has given a free hand and wants results. He is accessible and responsive. But whether he will back bureaucrats to the hilt on decisions and tough situations is not clear, and so everyone is being cautious.”

The Centre’s supervision

If the establishment of a clear power centre in UP is one change from the past, another big departure from the past is the role of the Centre in UP affairs. For the first time in 28 years, the same party is in power in both Delhi and Lucknow. And the result is closer convergence, and a degree of Delhi’s supervision that Lucknow is not familiar with.

There is a rationale for it. “The PM knows this mandate was won on his name. His credibility is at stake here,” says a BJP leader. The other obvious motivation is the general election in 2019. “We know that there is now no excuse with both the Centre and state in our hands. We have to go back with answers to the people. Delhi knows we cannot mess up here.”

The supervision, directly from the PMO, has taken two forms.

The first is appointments. Not only is it releasing key UP cadre officers, Delhi is playing a key role in the selection of functionaries. Almost all key officials the CM depends on have gone straight from Delhi, familiar with the workings of the Narendra Modi sarkar.

And the second is policy. Union Ministers have announced packages. In May, a Niti Aayog team came to Lucknow and made presentations on what needed to be done in key sectors, which Yogi sat through. A six member team — three from the Aayog and three from UP government led by health minister Siddharth Nath Singh — was set up.

Watch: 100 days of Yogi Adityanath Govt: what are the challenges for the CM?

Singh, who is emerging as a key policy mind in the government, told HT, “We are now working closely with the Aayog on a short term, one-year, and three-year roadmap. Their suggestions have been very useful in various sectors, from health and agriculture to connectivity and industrialisation.”

Does this mean that the centre is running the show? Chandramohan, a BJP state spokesperson, says, “No, it means there is support for a common aim of vikas (development).”

Party synergy

Another source of control is the party. The BJP has seen the perils of the party and government working at cross purposes under the SP. It also knows that governance has to serve the political goal of winning 2019.

And that is why organisation general secretary Sunil Bansal has ensured that every day, a minister is at the party office for two hours; a minister is in charge of a district or two; and ministers have to constantly monitor the working of schemes in areas under their charge.

“We have supporters from every region, every caste, every class. The party has to be the medium to relay the grievances to the government, to provide policy inputs, correct the government, and take the government’s message. There is close coordination,” says a party leader.

As Yogi settles into his governance routine, he has succeeded in establishing authority. But both Narendra Modi, through the central government, and Amit Shah, through the party, are ensuring that there is close check on this authority and it is channelled for one goal - 2019.

This article is the second of a three-part series by HT that tracks the progress of the Uttar Pradesh government as it completes 100 days in office. Part 1 focussed on the state government’s challenges in tackling the law and order situation in UP.

First Published: Jun 27, 2017 09:05 IST