New Delhi: Fast-tracking of development work at Ayodhya, diffusing anger among BJP workers, visiting Covid-affected families and filling up vacancies in boards and corporations — these are some of the steps that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has taken since returning from Delhi last Friday.
Adityanath, facing flak for his Covid-19 handling, had met Home Minister Amit Shah, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president J.P. Nadda during his two-day visit to the national capital. He was instructed to undertake a course correction and effectively deal with anti-incumbency ahead of the 2022 assembly elections in the state.
Chief on the agenda, BJP leaders said, are proposals to improve infrastructure in Ayodhya and speed up construction of the Ram Temple.
On Saturday, a day after he returned from Delhi, the chief minister headed an Ayodhya vision document committee meeting, in which he reviewed the progress of the proposed 1,100 acre development plans for the city.
The plans include the construction of a Sri Ram airport in Ayodhya, a township equipped with solar power, the Saryu river front development, an international museum, a tourism home and various roads and gates, all of which will be based on the Ramayana theme.
Sources present at the meeting said the chief minister granted the Ayodhya Development Authority, the nodal body, approval for the airport and a few other projects. Sources, however, added that the layout will only be finalised after a review meeting by the prime minister.
“Very soon, the prime minister himself will take a review meeting to finalise the new Ayodhya city plan,” an official said. “The state government has given its consent but the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is monitoring development. Within two to three weeks, the PM will review the vision plan, which is estimated to initially cost almost Rs 20,000 crore. This could increase later, according to modifications.”
Adityanath followed up the meeting by announcing a few more developmental projects for Ayodhya Monday, which includes a Rs 400 crore integrated bus terminal for tourists. On the same day, the Uttar Pradesh cabinet granted approval for a four-lane highway from the Ayodhya-Sultanpur road to the new airport .
“A few more projects are lined up for the new city, which will be announced once the prime minister finalises the plan,” the official quoted above said.
When Adityanath was reviewing the Ayodhya vision plan Saturday, the Ram Janmabhoomi trust chairman and former PMO official, Nripendra Misra, held a meeting in Ayodhya, to work out ways to speed up construction of the Ram Temple.
“The agency carrying out construction was told to complete foundation work by October under any circumstances,” an official present in the meeting said. “This is so that when the chief minister visits Ayodhya during Deepotsav (celebrations that the state government holds during Diwali in Ayodhya each year), he can visit the temple and offer puja.”
A senior UP BJP leader said, “The BJP has fulfilled the promise of Ram Mandir, so, naturally, this will be one of the major achievements that will be highlighted in the election campaign. The momentum of construction is necessary to show devotees about our commitment. Ram is a symbol of development, which will be showcased in the campaign.”
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Massive outreach to calm Covid anger
The Uttar Pradesh BJP is also looking to diffuse the anger at the government over its Covid handling.
As a first step, the state unit has begun reaching out to family members of party workers who died during the second wave, especially those who struggled for beds and oxygen. There have been complaints that the government did little to help them.
This process, however, has been underway even before Adityanath’s visit to Delhi.
Since early June, state BJP president Swatantra Dev Singh has visited affected families of BJP workers in 15 districts of the state. The party has also offered monetary aid in a few cases.
BJP sources said that during the cabinet meeting Monday, Adityanath told his ministers to visit families affected by Covid in their constituencies, review state government schemes on the ground and list complaints against their implementation.
He also urged his ministers to meet BJP workers and block mandal functionaries, apart from visiting healthcare centres to meet anganwadi and other frontline workers.
The ministers have also been told to visit Common Services Centers (CSC) ration shops in their mandals to check for any shortcomings in the distribution of ration and other schemes.
On Delhi’s suggestion to streamline the relationship between government and the party, the chief minister has told civil servants that during any distribution of government funds and assistance related to Covid or any other scheme, greater emphasis should be given to elected members, from the district panchayat president, MLA to the MP.
Lallu Singh, BJP leader and Faizabad MP told ThePrint that this was one of the major grouses of the party’s elected officials. “Officials just don’t listen to elected members,” Singh said. “Even for Ayodhya development, they know more than me. They are more involved in planning and development.”
Accommodating disgruntled workers & leaders
To accommodate disgruntled workers and leaders ahead of the 2022 elections, the chief minister and his party have begun the exercise to fill vacancies in various boards, nigams and commissions.
There are also vacancies in various cells of the party, from the governance to media cells.
“The immediate concern is the assembly election, and so various infrastructure projects have been unveiled,” said a second senior BJP leader. “The new Ayodhya township will not only give us an edge in religious consolidation, it will create employment that UP desperately needs.”
He added that a chief concern of the high command in Delhi was the Covid-19 devastation in the state. “So ministers have been instructed to reach out to affected families and create positive sentiments,” he said. “Since the PM’s thrust is on preparations for the third Covid wave, we have been told to visit primary health centres to check gaps and manage perceptions on the ground.”
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)
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