Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath Wednesday sought to tom-tom his government’s achievements on the completion of three years in office, claiming a drastic improvement in law and order, investments, and infrastructure development. But a closer look at the official figures and statements doesn’t reveal a rosy picture.
That’s besides the fact that Adityanath — who’s the first BJP CM in the state to complete a continuous tenure of three years — has emerged as a divisive figure, making communally provocative statements across the country, striking at individual liberty, and allegedly protecting party colleagues accused in crimes against women.
As his government completes its first three years in power, ThePrint presents a detailed report card of his regime’s promises and delivery.
Rise in unemployment
While announcing its manifesto for the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, the BJP had promised to provide 70 lakh jobs. However, unemployment has only risen since.
According to Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) data, unemployment almost doubled in the state last year — growing to 9.95 per cent in 2019 from 5.91 per cent in 2018.
Last month, in response to a question in the state assembly, Minister for Labour and Employment Swami Prasad Maurya said about 33.93 lakh youth had registered themselves as unemployed on the government portal until 7 February against 21.39 lakh in 2018. In the same month, CM Yogi Adityanath, however, said that he gave government jobs to over 2.5 lakh people in his term.
According to UP-based economist A.P. Tiwari, “During the last 3 years, the government made attempts to recruit youths in different departments but many examinations got cancelled and results of several exams are pending. It is a truth that youth aspirants cannot be given job fully in government sectors. In the present scenario, emphasis should be on creating employment in those segments which are labour intensive.”
Tiwari said most of these activities fall under the Small and Medium Enterprises sector. The government should also focus more on its ‘One District One Product’ scheme, which seeks to promote products associated with local cities — for instance, carpet in Bhadohi.
However, the Adityanath government did well in its last budget to keep the fiscal deficit within prescribed limits. The government should include more economists for perception management, added Tiwari.
Promised ‘investment’ not working out
In February 2018, nearly a year after it came to power, the Yogi Adityanath government held a grand investors’ summit in Lucknow, with the participation of top businessmen from all over the country. At the time, the UP government said that a total of 1,045 MoUs, worth Rs 4.28 lakh crore, were signed.
Last month, UP’s Minister for Industrial Development Satish Mahana said only 90 of those 1,045 projects had started commercial production until January, with an investment of about Rs 39,000 crore.
However, in an editorial published in several newspapers Wednesday to talk about his government’s achievements, Adityanath said 371 of those projects have been implemented, generating “more than 33 lakh direct and indirect employment opportunities”.
The government’s performance on translating agreements into material investments has been questioned by opposition leaders too, including Samajwadi Party president and former CM Akhilesh Yadav.
Speaking to ThePrint, Congress MLC Deepak Singh said he had asked questions in the House related to investment and employment generated by these investors’ summits, but the government could not present any definite figures.
The law and order situation and ‘anti-Romeo squads’
In the last three years, the Yogi Adityanath government has continuously remained in the headlines for its ‘zero tolerance’ law and order policy, particularly on encounters of criminals.
According to government data from last year, the state police engaged in “3,896 encounters and arrested 8,904 accused in the process” under the current dispensation. While 76 criminals were killed in these shootouts, 1,154 others were injured. Due to this, the National Human Rights Commission served two notices to the UP government and its police in two separate cases.
In his editorial Wednesday, Adityanath claimed a fall in dacoity (59.70 per cent) and murder cases (47.09 per cent) in 2019 as compared to 2016. This came on the back of a claim Monday at a press conference that rape cases have also decreased in the state in the last three years.
However, the National Crime Records Bureau report for 2018 released in January showed that Uttar Pradesh topped the list of crimes against women with 59,445 cases, followed by Maharashtra (35,497) and West Bengal (30,394).
These numbers have come despite the creation of ‘Anti-Romeo squads’ in a much-criticised move to protect women from stalkers and harassers, soon after the government came to power.
Speaking to ThePrint, political commentator Sharad Pradhan questioned the disappearance of these squads three years on.
But it’s not just these squads that have been questioned under the Adityanath government. Two BJP leaders have also been involved in controversial rape cases.
While ex-BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar — who was expelled from the party following much delay and immense pressure — was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Unnao rape case last year, former Union minister of state for home, Chinmayanand was also accused in the rape of a student. However, in this case, the student had to go to jail too, on charges of extortion.
Anti-CAA protests & hoarding controversy
When protests broke out in the state in December last year against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act, the Yogi Adityanath government moved to stop them with alleged police brutality.
While official figures said that as many as 19 people were killed during anti-CAA demonstrations, CM Adityanath claimed in the state assembly that not a single death was caused by police bullets.
Not stopping at quelling the protests, the UP police registered FIRs against more than 1,000 women under different sections for participating in the protests.
In a much controversial move this month, the government displayed hoardings with pictures of anti-CAA protesters at important intersections in the state capital in a bid to recover damages. While the government’s ministers justified the move, the Allahabad High Court junked it. As of now the matter is pending before the Supreme Court.
CM’s controversial statements
The Uttar Pradesh chief minister, who has been a star campaigner for his party for several elections, has made a name for himself by consistently making controversial statements.
In November 2017, the CM had said that criminals will be either forced to leave Uttar Pradesh or they will be “killed in encounters“. In another interview, he said that if the criminals continue to commit crimes, they will be shot (‘thok denge’).
But his provocative statements weren’t just limited to law and order policies in his own state. During election campaigns in other states over the last three years, he made several communally charged comments.
From mentioning Pakistan eight times within 48 seconds at a poll rally in February, to attacking Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal for “feeding biryani” to anti-CAA protestors at Shaheen Bagh, Adityanath remained in headlines.
On cow protection
CM Yogi Adityanath is known to be extra active on the issue of cow protection. But opposition parties allege that the farmers’ issues due to stray cattle over the last three years are unprecedented in scale.
Speaking to ThePrint, Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Ajay Lallu said that the government is making a mockery in the name of building cow shelters, citing a recent case of a farmer suicide in Agra. Lallu alleged that several accidents have taken place on highways in the state due to stray animals.
Questions on corruption by BJPs MLAs
The Yogi Adityanath government has not faced allegations of any major scam so far in its tenure. However, MLAs from the ruling BJP have themselves accused state officials of corruption and arbitrariness.
Last year, over 100 BJP MLAs staged a sit-in protest against their own government on the floor of UP assembly. At the time, BJP MLA Nand Kishor Gurjar, from Ghaziabad’s Loni seat, vociferously raised this issue alleging that he was being harassed by the Ghaziabad police.
Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya also wrote a letter to Adityanath last year with details of alleged scams being committed under the Lucknow Development Authority (LDA). The letter was leaked in the media, and after much furore, the LDA was forced to blacklist 11 contractors.
Focus on spiritual tourism and infrastructure
The one area where the Yogi Adityanath government did perform well was on spiritual tourism. In all his budgets so far, the CM laid special focus on projects worth crores for spiritual sites like Ayodhya, Prayagraj, Mathura and Varanasi. The government claimed success in organising the Prayagraj Kumbh in 2019 as a “grand event”.
But the government is also looking to push infrastructure projects in other regions.
With several districts of Bundelkhand and Purvanchal still lagging behind, the government wants to develop these areas through its Bundelkhand-Purvanchal Expressway project. Sources within the government said the expressway will be a 354-km long highway connecting Lucknow and Ghazipur.
Apart from this, this year’s budget proposed to build a 1050-km Ganga Expressway from Meerut to Prayagraj, as the largest expressway in India.
What the government believes
Speaking with ThePrint, UP cabinet minister and government spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh said Uttar Pradesh’s name and fame has increased manifold throughout the country under the leadership of CM Yogi Adityanath.
He claimed that there has been considerable boost in UP’s economy. However, there is still no set mechanism to ascertain how many people have got fresh employment, he said, adding that millions of youth are still getting employment through various government schemes.
Law and order condition has also improved and that is why fresh investment is pouring into the state of UP, claimed Singh, adding that this has been possible only due to political stability.
“We have been able to greatly improve the old image of UP. Indeed, after just three years in office our government has done more work than previous governments,” he added.
What political experts say
Experts told ThePrint that Uttar Pradesh hasn’t witnessed results commensurate with the mandate the BJP received in 2017.
“UP is such a big state that no dramatic overnight change can be ushered in here. But the kind of majority that this government got in 2017, reflects people’s trust (in BJP). Though the last three years have not witnessed results in comparison to this, but we will have to wait for the last two years,” said Kaviraj, a political science professor at Lucknow University.
Sharad Pradhan said that when Adityanath was installed as CM, no one had any doubt about his “honest image”, but there were questions over his “communal style of politics”.
“It was being expected that he would mellow down himself after occupying the CM’s chair. Initially it was visible too, but he has not been able to put himself in the frame of “being a CM” as he has failed to break free from the frame of being head of a monastery (in Gorakhpur),” said Pradhan.
“The officials are also well aware about this fact, so they say the same thing that the chief minister likes. Probably this is why some official would have suggested following the policy of encounters as a short cut for improving the law and order situation,” he said.
“We hope that in the next two years, he will remain more focused on developmental works,” added Pradhan.