Under Yogi Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh is making a break from its past

Mrityunjay Kumar
Adityanath’s first decision as CM was to waive Rs 36,000 crore worth of loans of over 86 lakh farmers. Since then, UP has become the first state to make DBT payment to its farmers. (PTI Photo/Manvender Vashist)

When a respected English news magazine adjudged UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath as the best performing CM across big Indian states on Independence Day eve, it was an endorsement of his government’s work in the past two-and-a-half years. The Adityananth government has already reached milestones that a majority of previous governments couldn’t accomplish in their full tenure.

The figures speak for themselves. By creating over 2.5 lakh jobs in the government sector and over 20 lakh jobs in the private sector, the government has surpassed the job-creation record of the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party regimes.

Another achievement of the Adityanath government is getting the status of best-performing state on 20 different counts, including the implementation of Central schemes. Be it the construction of over 25 lakh houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and 2.61 crore toilets under Swachh Bharat, 1.35 crore LPG connections under Ujjawala Yojana and 1.1crore power connections under the Saubhagya scheme, the state is number one in the country. Adityanath’s first decision as CM was to waive Rs 36,000 crore worth of loans of over 86 lakh farmers. Since then, UP has become the first state to make DBT payment to its farmers.

The central government has honoured the state for making maximum purchases through e-markets. It is also number one in establishing micro, medium and small enterprises. The Adityanath government has paid a record Rs 73,000 crore to cane farmers, who were reeling under crop losses. The government’s earnings have increased by almost 24 per cent under key heads as compared to the SP regime. The revenue under six major heads — excise, commercial tax, transport, mining, GST and VAT, and registration — has gone up to Rs 1.2 lakh crore in 2018-19, compared to Rs 86,000 crore in 2016-17 under the SP regime.

Law and order has been UP’s bane and lawlessness reached its zenith during the SP regime. Adityanath took the menace by its horns. The elimination of over 100 and the arrest of over 10,000 dreaded criminals has not only broken the swag of anti-social elements, but has also restored people’s confidence in the government and the police. Those who accuse the government of pursuing an “encounter policy” should realise that there is no policy as such. It’s just a matter of giving operational freedom to the police to tackle crime.

Those who still cite cases like the Unnao rape case — more of a social issue than a law and order problem — should actually see the difference on ground. The government also cleared the long-pending recruitment of 75,000 police personnel and is all set to recruit many more.

On the education front, the biggest feat of the UP government has been the decimation of the copying mafia in board examinations. The examination centres which were hotspots of organised copying have been debarred.

During the previous regimes, MoUs would be announced but nothing much followed. We have already seen two ground-breaking ceremonies in which investment worth Rs 1.50 lakh crore — out of Rs 4.28 lakh crore pledged at the February 2018 investors meet — has actualised.

The Lucknow Metro has been operationalised. Work on the Agra and Kanpur metros is on the fast track. The government is also targeting a 24-month deadline for completing three expressways — Poorvanchal, Bundelkhand and Ganga. These super highways will provide direct road access to the national capital: One can drive down to any corner of the state from Delhi in 8-10 hours.

The success of the government in controlling Japanese encephalitis in eastern UP is the stuff of folklore. When over 60 children died at Gorakhpur’s BRD Hospital in August 2017, Adityanath was unfairly criticised. Everyone forgot that he was the only leader from eastern UP who fought for the eradication of encephalitis — from Parliament to the street. He, however, took the criticism in his stride and marshalled a final assault on the menace. Result: The number of deaths from AES has dropped from 655 in 2017 to just 42 in 2019 (till September 15). The number of JE cases has dropped from 93 to just 4.

When have you seen a CM who visits three different locations in the state to have a first-hand account of development work, comes back to the state capital to hold a cabinet meeting in the evening and then again sits through hours-long power-point presentations of the departments or video-conferencing with districts? It’s this work culture that has led to the success of mega events like the Kumbh — the biggest so far visited by nearly 22 crore people — and Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas.

The biggest endorsement of the UP CM’s work was the affection shown by the people of UP in the Lok Sabha elections. While the critics and Opposition were expecting a saffron doom after the forging of an opportunistic alliance between the SP and BSP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charisma and Adityanath’s work stunned the naysayers. The honour didn’t come as a surprise to those who have been watching Adityanath ever since he became an MP at the age of 26 in 1998. He had been one of the best performing MPs for nearly two decades. But one would hardly find his mention whenever MPs’ report cards were discussed

Since Adityanath wears saffron and takes pride in being a torch-bearer of Hindutva, there has been a sustained design to ignore all his work as a people’s representative. Can there be a starker example of intolerance?

This article first appeared in the October 17 print edition under the title 'Between image and reality'. The writer is media adviser to the UP chief minister