Judging the Jogi
By Namita Bajpai | Published: 18th June 2017 11:07 AM |
Hundred days are hardly enough to judge a government’s performance. And only a miracle can ensure a turnaround in such a short duration. But then, wasn’t winning 325 seats of 403 a wild dream come true? This is what the Yogi Adityanath government has to live with. And the fact that it started off with a miracle will always remain the benchmark for judging its performance.
“They started off promisingly with a lot of goodwill but failed to maintain the momentum. However, they should be given three more months to get into the groove and then evaluated. But, thereafter, they will have to deliver without any excuse,” political scientist Ashutosh Mishra gives voice to the people’s expectations.
Congress leader Satyadeo Tripathi is not so generous. “They have failed on all fronts. Law and order is in bad shape. None of their programmes has been successful during the first 100 days of their governance.” Expectedly, Samajwadi Party spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary echoes the sentiments. “This government is more into hollow promises. They haven’t done anything else but renaming and selling schemes launched by the Akhilesh Yadav government.”
While the Opposition is trying to make up for its depleted number in the House through sound bites, the ruling party has a ready reckoner to narrate its feats.
“The government has fixed its accountability to the people who supported it with such a huge mandate. While we have acted against corrupt, we have also ensured that the process of development continues. Moreover, if we have achieved only 63 per cent target of making roads free from potholes so we have accepted it with all fairness and honesty. We are alive to our responsibilities and people’s expectations,” says BJP’s state general secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak.
Contemplating to come out with a white paper on its three-odd months’ performance, the future has bigger challenges ahead. First will be the maiden budget. The government has to deal with a Rs 70,000 crore bill needed to be cleared to pay off for the farmers’ loan waiver and 7th Pay Commission salary to its employees. It would be the first litmus test for the government and its financial management. How it fares will prove whether the landslide in March 2017 was a boon or a bane.
Dealing with the Djinn
BJP came to power with a thumping majority ostensibly riding on a sharp communal polarisation. Now, taming the djinn of communalism is one of the biggest challenges of the Yogi government.
With emboldened fringe Hindu groups rearing their heads on one hand and an oversensitive minority community—20 per cent of the population—on the other, the government is doing a tightrope walk to project an ‘inclusive’ image. Starting with sundry instances of posters and banners allegedly put by Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV) in west UP villages asking Muslims to leave, it all ballooned into a full-blown communal flare-up in Saharanpur on April 20. It later took the shape of a caste conflict between Thakurs and Dalits in which four persons were killed.
Communally sensitive wild west witnessed a number of incidents posing threat to communal amity. Lynching of a Muslim man for allegedly helping a Hindu girl and a Muslim boy elope, Muzaffarnagar conflagration leaving a person dead and HYV stopping a Christian prayer session alleging conversion in Kushinagar near Gorakhpur are some of the incidents which kept the government on its toes.
Law & Order
Checking Crime Graph
Poor law and order was a major plank the BJP used against the Akhilesh Yadav government during polls. It worked. On the hot seat, the party is finding the going tough. The first 100 days have seen virtually no abatement in the spread of crime.
Mathura double-murder, Jewar gangrape, Rampur molestation of two girls by over a dozen hooligans on road, abduction of Firozabad glass trader, besides cases of attacks on traders, extortion and loot have pushed the government into a corner. The government started with a bang by setting up anti-Romeo task force, sending eve-teasers scurrying for cover. However, the initial spark was overshadowed by a sudden spate in crimes, keeping the government and police machinery busy. As a result, a good number of big cases were cracked quickly.
On an Overdrive
Immediately after taking over as the CM, the first thing Yogi Adityanath did was administer a ‘cleanliness oath’ to his colleagues and top bureaucrats. It was followed by a crackdown on gutka and paan in government offices. Overnight, stinking corners of the power corridors turned spick and span. Besides, biometric machines were installed in offices to inculcate discipline.
In a bid to end the VIP culture, UP was the first state to stop use of red and blue beacon lights on VIP cars. However, CM’s diktat to officers to declare their assets didn’t cut much ice. Presentations to review and evaluate performance of different departments by the CM himself have been another
Sop Near, Yet So Far?
As per its poll promise, the government at its first cabinet meeting on April 4 waived farm loans up to Rs 1 lakh to benefit around 86 lakh small and marginal farmers. The decision is projected to cost the exchequer more than Rs 36,000 crore. But the loan waiver is yet to take shape on the ground.
After the Centre’s refusal to financial support, the government is contemplating seeking help from other financial agencies to extend the sop to farmers. However, the government showed a commendable urgency to tackle the issue of cane farmers’ dues. Besides, support price for wheat was increased and for the first time ever, MSP for potato was also declared.
Slaughtering a Food Habit?
When the BJP promised before polls that it would close down illegal slaughterhouses after coming to power, most took it for an election rhetoric to please Hindu voters. But after the win, this was one of the first decisions of the government. The whip was cracked indiscriminately, forcing closure of over 100 abattoirs and throwing over 50,000 meat sellers out of business for over two weeks. Although the High Court made a strong observation that the government’s step shouldn’t affect people’s food habit, there is no clarity on when the new slaughter houses will come up and fresh licences for running meat business would be issued. However, a majority of meat sellers and food joints are now back to normal business. And nobody is now stopping them.
One sector which had the maximum share of the Yogi government’s radical reforms has been education. Contrary to its ‘pro-Hindi’ image, the government proposed to introduce English in curriculum since nursery instead of Class VI to make the system modern. Other highlights of educational reforms included trimming of annual holiday list by 15, making the government schools bag-free on Saturdays and making all government boys school co-ed.
Battle of Perception
The government worked tirelessly to create an industry-friendly image of the state. It has proposed a ‘Make in UP’ department under the new industrial policy to create industry, promote start-ups, invite sector-specific investment and manufacturing zones. State Investment Promotion Board under the chairmanship of the CM himself will also be instituted. The new draft policy—out for public feedback—has provisions for making an industry-friendly atmosphere in the state ensuring industrial security through integrated police-cum-fire stations in industrial clusters. New airports and a ‘road corridor’ to connect Mathura to Varanasi and Jhansi to Gorakhpur are also on the anvil.
With a BJP government at the Centre, the coordination has never been better. In a first, PM Narendra Modi sent a high-power 25-member team of Niti Aayog to UP led by its deputy chairman Arvind Pangariya. The team had the mandate to assess the development projects initiated by the Centre in the state and draw a roadmap for the state’s holistic development during the next five years so that the party can fulfil its poll promises before 2019 LS polls. On the CM’s request to relieve 10 UP cadre IAS officers, the Centre spared six. Besides, there were a number of infra, highway and road projects that got the Centre’s nod.
In a bid to send across the message that unlike its predecessors, his government didn’t believe in vendetta and transferring babus just for the sake of it, Yogi Adityanath went slow on reshuffle. So much so that he still continues with the same chief secretary whom Akhilesh Yadav had appointed. However, after nearly a month of wait, he went for the change getting a new fleet of officers for his own office and key departments such as home, industry, power, besides replacing Javeed Ahmad with the senior-most 1987 batch IPS officer Sulkhan Singh as the DGP. By the third month, even the lower-rung administration and police officers had been shaken up.
Here too, the government didn’t go for blindly shutting the previous government’s projects as has been the norm for the past two decades in the state. Although probe were ordered to find out anomalies in key projects like Gomti Riverfront, JP International Centre, Varuna Corridor, the government was in agreement that these projects should be completed. Besides, it adopted Akhilesh’s Purvanchal Expressway after dropping the term ‘Samajwadi’ from its name and Lucknow Metro; it also announced new Metros for Gorakhpur and Jhansi.
The government could keep its promise of making state roads pothole-free only partially till the deadline of June 15. Against a target of 1.21 km, only 73,000 km could be made pothole-free—a little over 60 per cent. Rest 40 per cent dilapidated roads would be repaired after monsoon and the government is seeking at least two-to-three more months to accomplish the task. There was some improvement on the power front as UP signed a pact with the Centre to implement ‘Power for All’ scheme. UP was one of the few states which had not signed the pact during the SP rule.
Opposition, for the sake of it
With the Opposition decimated inside the House, it was expected that the government would have a smooth run in the Assembly. However, the scene on the inaugural day of the maiden session belied all expectations. Probably for the first time ever, even the Governor became the target of the Opposition paper missiles. Outside, while the SP leaders make occasional anti-government noise, the Congress has launched a ‘Haq Mango’ campaign to support the farmers. BSP chief Mayawati, meanwhile, tried to give a political colour to Saharanpur caste violence, but it didn’t work.