Yogi Adityanath completes six months: Win or vain?

New Delhi: Taking oath as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh on March 19, Adityanath, a Hindu hawk was expected to follow Modi, the current “Hindu hridaya samrat” after Bal Thackeray.

Promises cum Announcements:

The media went on detailing every minute detail of him including, when he wakes up and how he does not have breakfast without feeding the cows. His ban on paan and gutka in offices, adding anti-Romeo squads ostensibly to crack down on eve-teasing, asking his ministers to declare their assets and devote two hours a week on cleanliness efforts, telling them not to interfere in the transfer of officials, on which he had the prime minister’s backing and many other such steps brought him to limelight in news headlines.

He got every ministry to make detailed power point presentations on the tasks ahead, often getting other ministers to be present as the targets required inter ministerial coordination.

He also announced the Rs 36,000 crore loan waiver for small and marginal farmers, and shut down illegal slaughter houses – two important promises made in the Bharatiya Janata Party manifesto for Uttar Pradesh. Both had their flip side. Adityanath gave the impression of being a chief minister raring to go.

Reality check:

The loss of jobs, caused by the closure of slaughterhouses, is being felt not just by the Muslims, though they do not constitute the BJP’s vote bank, but also by Dalits, who too have lost their livelihoods. And the Dalits do form a very important catchment area for the BJP if it is to return to power in 2019. The Saharanpur violence against them in May did nothing to reassure them.

The loan waiver was bound to affect the state finances and thus the development schemes, particularly for health and education, though this is not officially acknowledged, which can be witnessed by the silence in these ministries.

The one area where Yogi Govt. seems to have been a visible toughening of the Uttar Pradesh government’s stand in the last couple of months is in stemming a deteriorating law and order situation. The police has moved in a concerted way against alleged gangsters and killed them in encounters in the last weeks (420 encounters, 15 gangsters killed, 1106 injured).

Adolescents dying:

Adityanath’s first six months faced child deaths in the BRD Hospital in Gorakhpur, which he represented in the Lok Sabha for five terms. These are deaths that take place more in the monsoon. Their number has decreased over the years due to Japanese encephalitis, diarrhoea and pneumonia. But the underlying reasons for the children succumbing to these diseases, is undoubtedly widespread malnutrition amongst women.

However, this time, there was the switching off of the oxygen supply to children because of unpaid bills, which made the deaths controversial, particularly with Gorakhpur being the chief minister’s constituency,

It was not just the number of deaths that was shocking. Equally disappointing was the response of the government. The government appeared not to have taken any heed, to ensure the immediate restoration of oxygen supply, which could have saved lives of other children and they represent the most vulnerable and voiceless of society. Instead, what followed was a tedious blame game.

Restlessness :

Alike Modi, Adityanath has also sold dreams to people, which a leader has to do, laying out a vision. He promises of 50,000 houses in two months, 1.55 Cr toilets by October next year, and claimed to have constructed 10 lakh toilets in the last 6 months; 1.25 lakh kms of roads freed of pot-holes in two months; and 24-hour power supply to district headquarters (whereas Lucknow is already experiencing undeclared power cuts).

As a result, restlessness is growing in Uttar Pradesh, and people have begun to question the mismatch between the promise and the reality.

Adityanath was saddled with two deputy chief ministers, which took away from his authority. Like his two deputies, Adityanath chose to come into the state assembly through the Legislative Council route – he took oath as a member of the Legislative Council on Monday, instead of fighting a popular election, which would have added to his stature.

One of the reasons why Adityanath was installed on the Lucknow gaddi, is his perceived ability to polarise public opinion on Hindu-Muslim lines, be it via cow vigilantes, anti-Romeo squads, or the promise of a change in school syllabus, or something else.

It is a tried and tested method used by the BJP to garner votes, which it can be expected to do again in 2019. But when he took over, and despite his track record, the people of Uttar Pradesh seemed to be fighting a war of words and actions.