Yogi Adityanath completes a month as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday, April 18, and his journey in the first month has been quite good. According to a survey conducted by Gaon Connection, a rural media platform, 84 percent people have said they liked the decision by the BJP to elevate the seer as the chief minister of the crucial state after sweeping the elections there held in February and March.
Over 71 percent of the respondents felt Adityanath was working in the right direction while just below 25 percent didn't want to give any definite answer. Though the survey's scope was not extensive (it covered 2,000 people in 20 districts), one would not be surprised with the outcomes strongly favouring Adityanath, despite all the controversies surrounding him.
Sources close to the BJP's inner circles have made it clear that Adityanath was not the initial choice as the UP chief minister for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. There was always a risk of his elevation creating an ambience of communal divide in UP, thanks to the controversial statements the man has often made in the past against minorities.
But when most of the party's newly elected MLAs threw their weight behind Adityanath, Modi did not have much option but to go for the parliamentarian from Gorakhpur. The decision, as the above-mentioned survey suggests, has not been an unpopular one so far and Adityanath has also tried his best in this short period to rise above the communal debates and make a mark as an able administrator.
Here is a look at some key decisions the Adityanath government has taken as the CM in the last 30 days, and though one month is too little a time to judge their efficacy, one cannot deny the fact that they have created a noise.
Waiving farm loans:
The Adityanath government decided in its first-ever Cabinet meeting on April 4 to waive loans up to Rs 1 lakh each for two crore farmers, besides procurement of wheat and potato at minimum support price. He also asked sugar-mill owners to clear the farmers' dues. Economically, one could question how the state would cope with waiving a whopping Rs 36,000 crore, but for the common people, the fact that the Adityanath government kept the BJP's poll promise after winning is significant.
Purchase centres of wheat:
CM Adityanath announced setting up of 5,000 purchase centres to procure 80 lakh tonnes of wheat against less than eight lakh tonnes procured last year. For observers, this is a move bigger than even the farm loan waiver and could be a game changer in the days to come.
Ban on illegal slaughterhouses and cow smuggling:
For the secularists, these measures may seem an attack on India's secular creed, but for many sections, this move is more of an administrative reform to curb illegal practices. Practical problems apart, just like we saw in case of Modi's demonetisation move, the common man is more in favour of long-time gain than immediate pain.
In a state where security and safety of women has been a huge worry, this move by the new government of UP to deploy anti-Romeo squads to tackle eve-teasers was certainly going to have many takers. The government also ensured that the squads did not harass the common man in the name of protecting them. The Adityanath government also instructed the law-keepers to put a strict check on crime in UP, something which the previous Samajwadi Party government had failed to do.
The Adityanath government has also taken various initiatives in sectors like education, electricity and industry. Despite the fact that he made a few controversial remarks this time too (for instance, he said 'asanas' of Surya Namaskara resemble the posture of Namaz offered by Muslims), all these have resulted in a cumulative positive effect on the CM's image.
Other measures taken by UP CM Yogi Adityanath in first month:
- Opening Janata Durbar where the CM himself listens to people's grievances and asks his officials to take immediate action.
- Working on cracking down on the mafia.
- Working on the Triple Talaq issue.
- Modernisation of madrassas.
- Probe into Gomati riverfront development scam
- Keeping a close eye on lax government servants and doctors who eye private practice.
- Reforms in school education
- Make all roads in UP pothole-free.
- Regular supply of electricity in districts and villages
- Providing cheap meal to the urban poor.
- Providing two ambulances with life-saving equipment to each district.
Adityanath's mission has been facilitated by the pro-development image of Modi who led the BJP to sweep the state in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014. By accomplishing the same feat in a politically challenging state inside three years, Modi and his saffron party proved that the people of UP have become disillusioned with both the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party – the two regional powerhouses that ruled the state for most of the period in the last three decades.
Deteriorating law and order problems, coupled with corruption, besides the caste and religious conflicts made life in UP problematic. And now, the people of the state look forward to the BJP giving them a new direction with its majority rule.
Adityanath, 44, has ensured that blatant Hindutva doesn't take the limelight of his governance even if he is a representative of the mutt, because if he can give good governance to the state in the next five years, time is on his side to rise through the ranks of the party, just like the current PM. The 'religious' has already been accomplished for Adityanath. Now, he has a world to conquer in the 'political'.
Adityanath has helped Modi consolidate his power in the middle of his first term and if he can back it with a good job as the CM, there is every possibility that he would emerge as Modi's political successor. Politics is, after all, a strange game.
What could be CM Adityanath's Achilles heel
Ever since Yogi Adityanath's elevation as the CM of UP, the Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV), the private militia which was set up by him in 2002 to assert the majoritarian sentiments, has become emboldened. It is seen openly proclaiming the Hindu roots and putting pressure on the administration and police to pursue their goals. This could be a threat to the stability of a state which is home to a huge Muslim population and also Adityanath's political progress. PM Narendra Modi has had to cover a long distance after the 2002 progroms in Gujarat and even today when he is the prime minister of the world's largest democracy, not all are convinced about his leadership because of his Hindutva links. Adityanath will have a huge responsibility on his shoulders to kill the possibilities of UP turning into another Gujarat. And to make that happen, one of his foremost duties will be to rein in the HYV.
The BJP has both seen leaders failing (read Sushma Swaraj, Keshubhai Patel, BS Yeddyurappa) as well as delivering (read Modi, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Manohar Parrikar, Raman Singh) as chief ministers. The young and energetic Adityanath will wisely choose the club he wants to join.
One month is long enough a time to pass a judgement on the new chief minister of UP. But a beginning has been made and one would curiously watch how it goes from here.