Halfway through his term as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath seems to have made a smooth transition from Yogiji to Netaji. Mixing humour with honesty, and policy announcements with political analysis, the Chief Minister outlined his administration’s clear vision — development with Hindutva, the real ‘Ram Rajya’.
In response to a question on whether he intends to make history on Ram Janmabhoomi, he added: “Yogi aate hi hain itihaas banane (Yogis come to make history).” The people of India, he said, had shown clearly that they had faith in the Supreme Court’s verdict, whatever it may be. Excerpts from an interview with The New Indian Express during the 18th Devi Awards in Lucknow:
There are a record number of women legislators in the Vidhan Sabha this time. Do you think this has changed the image of Uttar Pradesh in some way?
We have kept a very clear policy of zero tolerance on two issues — corruption and crime. We started with this concept in mind and have got results as well. We have been able to change the perception about Uttar Pradesh at the national and international levels.
We have organised four big events this year so far. First was the Kumbh, which drew approximately 25 crore pilgrims. It was a record in itself. Kumbh-2019 set new standards of management, cleanliness and security. We have moved towards a new Uttar Pradesh where the state government is committed to ensuring security to all its citizens. Without women empowerment, we can’t move forward. When we took charge, we set up anti-Romeo squads for women’s protection and from there we have been taking this endeavour forward.
But the acts of your own MLAs and former lawmakers undo whatever good you are trying to do. Moreover, it brings a bad name to the state. Doesn’t that sadden you?
This is society. Reforms will happen only in a phased manner. When a larger chunk of society comes out and stands up against the wrongdoings committed by whosoever, then change becomes inevitable. A wrong is a wrong. It should be negated vociferously at every level. The rule of law should
be priority for everyone as it envisages security and welfare of all.
The 15th Finance Commission, which visited UP recently, appreciated your government’s performance on a number of parameters. But it indicated that three sectors - unemployment, education, health - need more effort. What do you have to say about it?
When we took over in 2017, the state was in a financial mess. We didn’t have money to pay salaries to our staff. Today, we have implemented the Seventh Pay Commission and are paying salaries and emoluments to state employees on time.
We have been successful in bringing about transparency in governance and inculcating financial discipline in governance. We are moving ahead towards people’s welfare and infrastructural development. We are building the country’s biggest international airport in Jewar. We have already acquired 80 per cent land for the project and have made all the payments to the farmers for their lands.
What about other projects like Poorvanchal Expressway, Bundelkhand Expressway and the UP Defence Corridor?
Poorvanchal Expressway will be dedicated to the nation next year. We are about to start work on Bundelkhand Expressway. The land has been acquired. Apart from this, we are going to construct a Ganga Expressway connecting Meerut to Prayagraj. After the completion of these three expressways, UP will be on the top in terms of infrastructural development in the country.
In the health sector, we had only 12 medical colleges till 2016. We are setting up 15 new medical colleges in the state and have already opened admissions in seven medical colleges. Two new AIIMS, at Gorakhpur and Rae Bareli, have started OPDs and admissions. Much has been done in the health sector, but much more needs to be done.
Do you think your bureaucracy is able to match your pace?
Look, this is team work and it gains momentum by the active participation of government, bureaucracy and common people. Nothing can be done single-handedly. Bureaucracy is guided by the leadership. It doesn’t have any religion of its own. Its only religion is to move forward with the leadership and this is what is being done in UP.
Are you moving to implement NRC (National Register of Citizens) in UP?
NRC is a welcome step. It is being implemented successfully in Assam. Politics should never be played on any issue connected with national security.
Have you demanded it?
We don’t have to demand it, we have to implement it. Our surveys are going on in this connection and when we decide to implement it, we will put forth the survey results as well.
How well prepared are you in terms of law and order as the Ayodhya verdict is around the corner?
We want to give Ayodhya a distinct identity. We have started Deepotsav as part of this endeavour. We have brought about a lot of changes in terms of development in Ayodhya during the last two-and-a-half years. As far as the controversy over Ram Janmabhoomi Sthal is concerned, I compliment the Supreme Court of India for re-affirming people’s faith in judiciary by conducting day-to-day hearings on the vexed issue. It is a big leap towards settling the issue.
Will you accept the Supreme Court’s verdict, whatever it may be, in totality?
The SC verdict will be welcomed and implemented.
Mulayam Singh Yadav is known for saving the mosque in Ayodhya as he had ordered firing on the kar sevaks. In Kalyan Singh’s regime, the mosque got demolished. Will you also be making history in Ayodhya?
The Supreme Court’s decision will have to be accepted by all, but we should also acknowledge the fact that yogis are born to make history.
You met two former CMs, Mulayam Singh and Kalyan Singh, recently. Did you discuss Ayodhya with them?
No, my visit was not political. I keep visiting them as they are our elders and should be respected. Both have been former CMs of UP. They have contributed to the development of the state.
But you did not visit Mayawati ji or Akhilesh, who are also former CMs?
Let’s pray to the God that they also get elderly. I will visit them, too.
You have achieved a lot. Do you feel that you have also lost something?
I have donned saffron. I have neither the desire to win anything nor the fear of losing.