Yogi Adityanath government’s first year in power: The hits and misses
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s term that has been marked by continuity and departure; by controversies and innovations.Updated: Mar 21, 2018 08:19 IST
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Last March saw two big surprises in Lucknow. Before the assembly election results emerged, few had expected the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies to sweep the country’s largest and one of the most politically complex states with 325 of 403 seats. But another surprise was in the offing — the elevation of Yogi Adityanath, the firebrand five-term Gorakhpur MP, as the new chief minister of the state.
This March saw another surprise. The BJP, comfortably settled in power in Delhi and Lucknow, seeming politically invincible, lost Gorakhpur and Phulpur — Yogi and deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya’s seats. The party was shocked.
Between the win and the loss was a year, the year of Yogi raj in Uttar Pradesh. It is a term that has been marked by continuity and departure; by controversies and innovations.
The year began with the BJP government in the state implementing two of its key campaign promises. It set up anti-Romeo squads to tackle harassment against women.
Some appreciated it, but it also turned into a tool for moral policing and harassment by local officials. It also cracked down on slaughter houses on the grounds that illegal cow slaughter was taking place on a rampant scale and there were health and environment issues at stake. But the government intervention hit livelihoods hard and disrupted a complex network of inter-dependence between farmers and allied occupations.
The Yogi government has been given credit for improving the power situation in the state; for improving roads; and for bringing a seriousness and focus to engagement with industry.
All these, its supporters hold, will have long term benefits. Critics, however, are sceptical of the claims.
But the most controversial twin legacy of the Yogi government so far has been its record on law and order and caste. The government claims there has been massive improvement; criminals are scared; and there is fear of the rule of law. This has happened because of a crackdown.
Critics, however, have documented that the government has resorted to extra judicial executions, ‘encounters’, targeting people arbitrarily and illegally and creating an atmosphere of fear. The other issue Yogi has to contend with both politically and in terms of governance is caste.
With a perception that the return of the BJP has meant the return of upper castes, the party is seeing erosion in the support of backward and Dalit communities.
TACKLING COPYING MAFIA: In an attempt to rein in the copying mafia in UP Board examinations, the government oversaw the anti-copying measures and held video conferences with the education department officials. Yogi’s message to the officials was clear - perform or perish. The procedure of examination centre allotment was made online and CCTV cameras were installed to check the use of unfair means. Due to the strict measures taken, at least 11,29,786 students quit the examination midway.
GUNNING FOR LAW, ORDER: After taking over as CM, Adityanath ordered the shifting of criminals to far-flung prisons to curb their activities. Soon, the police launched a state wide drive against criminals leading to a spurt in encounters.
MODERNISING MADRASAS: Modernisation of madrasas remained a major policy initiative of the Yogi government. After coming to power, the government made registration of madarsas mandatory.. To bring madrasas at par with other institutions, the govt introduced NCERT books in their curriculum and made maths and science compulsory at intermediate level.
REALISING INVESTMENT DEREAMS: UP’s biggest challenge will be to get the MoUs of Rs 4.28 lakh crore implemented in the state. Yogi has already reviewed the implementation of MoUs and has asked the officers to work out a framework for the purpose. He has directed the departments concerned to formulate policies for various sectors. He wants officers to rework draft defence manufacturing policy to make it compatible with the Centre’s policy.
SLAUGHTERHOUSES: Two days after Yogi took over as CM, the govt announced closure of illegal slaughterhouses in the state. The order affected meat traders across UP as most of the slaughterhouses had not been conforming to norms. The govt launched drives against roadside shops selling meat and the ‘ripple effect’ was visible on traditional eateries
BOMB SCARE IN ASSEMBLY: In July last year, a powder was found inside the state assembly while the session was on. The police suspected the powder to be PETN - an explosive, which was later uled out
UNNAO HIV OUTBREAK: Discovery of mass HIV infections in three villages of in Unnao rattled the state government in February. At least 58 people were tested positive for HIV after a quack allegedly used the same syringe to administer injections to all of them.
With the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) allying, and BJP’s own social alliance fraying, Yogi’s second year in office will be tougher than the first.
He has a formidable challenge ahead in 2019.
First Published: Mar 19, 2018 07:39 IST