By Mohit Dubey,
Lucknow : As the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government completed one year in power in India’s most populous state, the jury is still out on its performance.
While the party stormed back to power with a brute majority after 14 years in power, its loss in the recent bypolls to seats earlier held by the Chief Minister and his deputy have taken off some sheen from their celebration.
Adityanath and his team say that the government has done what was never even conceived of in the last decade and a half of the rule of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP), which according to him bequeathed “empty coffers, a state where criminals were having a free run and the bureaucracy was non-performing”.
The saffron-clad monk-politician stresses he has been working 18 hours a day to bring back on track the state, which he says, had been turned ‘bimaru’ by political powers who “never looked beyond gains for self, the party and their own families”.
The 45-year-old, who was picked to head the government by his Bharatiya Janata Party’s national leadership despite his hardcore Hindutva credentials, is still caustic in his public speeches against his rivals and openly brandishes his Hindu image that has won him support from many in the community in and outside the state but who raises suspicion in the minds of the minority.
Soon after taking over the reins of the state on March 19, 2017, Aditynanath, who is the sitting priest of the Gorakshnath Peeth in Gorakhpur, ordered a crackdown on the “illegal slaughterhouses in the state”, triggering a tizzy in the butcher community among the Muslims.
Hundreds of slaughter houses were closed down within days as raids were conducted by municipal bodies, who had incidentally certified their operations earlier.
Adityanath is unapologetic about his pro-Hindu image and has, apart from his public speeches and media interactions, brandished it on the floor of the UP assembly, saying he is proud to be a Hindu and will never celebrate Eid.
“I will however allow every community to celebrate their festivals if they want to do so peacefully,” he told the assembly, to the criticism from the opposition benches.
Leader of Opposition Ram Govind Chowdhary, of the Samajwadi Party, accuses Adityanath of behaving as if the opposition were terrorists.
Other than his tough language and image, the Chief Minister has also been the target of opposition attack for his frequent visits (almost weekly) to his temple in Gorakhpur with many of them alleging that his interest still seems to be propitiating gods than serving the people.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati who vanquished the BJP candidates in Phulpur and Gorakhpur by tactically and smartly extending her party’s vote to arch rival Samajwadi Party, says there is no reason for the BJP to celebrate its one-year rule as in the period, it had destroyed the social and communal fabric of the state.
“How can they celebrate when they have not achieved anything. The by polls results have emphatically shown that the people have given them a big zero for the one year report card,” she said in a statement. She further accuses Adityanath of being only busy with “puja-paath” whereas the biggest dharma was serving people.
Akhilesh Yadav too gives a thumbs down to the BJP government. “The only thing the Chief Minister and his government have done in the past one year is to remove names of the Samajwadi Party from government schemes”. He also slams the language used by Adityanath.
Aam Aadmi party (SSP) spokesman Vaibhav Maheshwari slams the Adityanath government by saying that “it still has not got out of the ‘jumlebaazi’ mode propounded by BJP chief Amit Shah”.
Ajay Kumar ‘Lallu’, leader of the Congress legislature party in the assembly, termed it a “failed and eye wash government” which is trying to mislead people by tall promises to hide their failures. “The farmers are on the brink, youth yet to get employment, power tariffs are up drastically…what have they done except fish out new tricks to befool people” he said.
State Health Minister and government spokesman Siddhartha Nath Singh, however trashed the allegations of the opposition and told IANS that they were shaken with the “path-breaking work” down by the government”. “We have constructed 37 lakh toilets for the poor, waived off loans worth Rs 36,000 crore of 86 lakh farmers, hounded out criminals. brought the health and education sector back on tracks, investors are making beeline to invest in the state…if this is not progress, what is?” he asks.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)