Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has asserted that the BJP government has enforced the rule of law in the state during its five years in office and expressed confidence that the party would get an absolute majority in the Assembly elections. In an interview with Amit Bhagchandka, he called the SP-RLD alliance .opportunistic. and claimed that farmers in the state too were with the BJP. Excerpts:
Q.What are the BJP’s prospects in the Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh?
A: BJP boasts of a very strong foothold since the times of Chief Ministers Kalyan Singh and Rajnath Singh. We have delivered on our promises each time we formed a government in the state and had a mandate to serve the people of UP. Due to decades of misrule by parties that got into power with the help of narrow, casteist and communal vote banks, UP missed out on many opportunities to develop economically and remained a largely agriculture-dependent state with very few avenues to get out of the poverty trap. This is ironic as Uttar Pradesh is part of the fertile Ganga basin and should have snapped out of this more rapidly than what we have seen.
Our government has made unprecedented improvements in infrastructure, energy, and most significantly improved law and order and ensured safety for women in the state. Our GSDP was seventh in India in 2017. But in just five years, we helped our GSDP reach the second spot. In the Ease of Doing Business ranking, the state has climbed from the 14th to the second position. Prior to 2017, the unemployment rate in the state was as high as 17.1 per cent, but we have brought it down to 3.1 per cent (as per CMIE). Likewise, the per capita income, which was around Rs 46,000 per annum in 2017, has more than doubled to Rs 94,000. The state budget, which hovered around Rs 2 lakh crore in 2015-16, rose to around Rs 6 lakh crore.
The state provided a unique model of ‘One District, One Product’ scheme, which is now being replicated nationally. This scheme has turned UP into an export hub. We have given 4.5 lakh government jobs. During the pandemic, our government provided food security to all, responded to medical needs, and simultaneously provided a better foundation for economic growth. We waived farm loans amounting to Rs. 36,000 crore in my very first cabinet meeting as CM because the previous governments had created large-scale economic hardship on poor and marginalised farmers. Importantly, the farmers received full benefits without complaints of corruption. We distributed free ration to more than 15 crore residents of Uttar Pradesh at a time when the pandemic had created existential challenges to the poor.
We have seized 66,000 hectares from the land mafia, created employment for 4.5 lakh youth in the public sector, 1.6 crore youth in the private sector, built more than 43 lakh houses for the poor and over 2 crore 30 lakh toilets. A record 11,381 km of highways have been constructed in UP. There was a time prior to 2017 when people used to dry their clothes on the electricity lines. It has drastically changed for the good, each one of the 98,000 villages get power, and we added a long-term capacity of 27 GW in the last 4.5 years alone. We have relentlessly served the people of Uttar Pradesh and have no doubt that we will get a renewed mandate with an absolute majority.
Q..The SP-RLD alliance seems to be making deep inroads into BJP strongholds, particularly in Western Uttar Pradesh. Do you think the alliance is a real challenger to the BJP?
A: The alliance between SP and RLD is opportunistic. The earlier combinations like the SP+BSP alliance of 2019 and the SP+Congress alliance of 2017 have helped BJP to address and work with a broader base of voters and we have always appealed to the electorate to transcend their legacy vote-bank caste identities and vote for progress, rule of law and equitable development for all – Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas and Sabka Vishwaas. The Jat voter-base now stands firmly with the BJP as when they witnessed the Muzaffarpur riots of 2013, the RJD didn’t step in to help the injustices to the community. BJP has not only helped in this regard but has enforced the rule of law uniformly all over the state.
Q.. The BJP made every attempt to woo RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary, but he decided to go with SP leader Akhilesh Yadav.What’s the reason?
A: Firstly, there were no attempts made to woo anybody. RLD made a mistake in 1989 when the elections were fought by the same alliance to exploit the legacy of Chaudhary Charan Singh. The Janata Dal won the election and sidelined Ajit Singh. Mulayam Singh became the Chief Minister and the Jats were completely marginalised then. It is in this context that the statement of ‘Jayant Chaudhary being in the wrong company’ was made.
Q..Do you think the BJP will seek the BSP’s support in the event of falling short of a majority in the polls?
A: We will retain power with full majority.
Q. Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is also vigorously campaigning in the state. How do you rate the Congress party’s prospects?
A: People of UP know how inefficient Priyanka Gandhi and her party are. The state of Uttar Pradesh has always had the rich fertile lands of the Ganga Basin and many of its cities were industrialised early on. Despite that, the state was ignored and deprived of even basic development with absolute apathy. The residents of Uttar Pradesh had to go to other states in search of even basic jobs and livelihoods. The people were abused and constantly disrespected to the extent of earning the infamous title of “UP waale Bhaiyya”. Congress played a prime role in creating this state of apathy. The baton was then passed on to SP which continued exploiting people and destroying industry and businesses. On the other hand, we worked towards changing that perception and worked on improving the selfrespect and prospects for the people.
Q..Do you think the farmers’ campaign against the three farm laws which have now been repealed will affect the BJP’s performance, particularly in Western Uttar Pradesh?
A: The farmers’ campaign is over and will have no effect on our performance. Farmers of Uttar Pradesh are very happy with us.
Q..You have been claiming your government’s performance on the law-and order front as one of your achievements, but your opponents say that the minorities have never felt as insecure as they have in the last five years. Your take?
A: In the name of protection of minorities, organised mafias were operating in the state. Land grabbing, abduction or intimidation of women, extortion rackets and widespread corruption terrorised the people of UP. A breakdown in law and order creates not only personal insecurity but also drives businesses and investments away. I have removed the sense of entitlement the organised mafia operatives enjoyed. The actions taken on the law-and-order front have changed the image and perception about UP.
Q..Everyone thinks a ‘sanyasi’ should be in the hills, away from worldly possessions.Then how do we reconcile with this monk becoming the chief minister?
A: Your perception of a ‘Sanyasi’ is very wrong. Even the Jagathgurus Shankaracharya, Ramanujacharya, Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Swami Vivekanand and all the other great sadhus did seek the isolation of the hills for their practices. But all of them finally walked back to society to guide and motivate people. That is the reconciliation of a monk being the chief minister.
Q.. What are your plans for policy continuity?
A: Policy continuity is important, and I give much thought to this. We have even in the Gorakh Nath math ways of maintaining unbroken chains of tradition and nurturing leaders. For creating leadership capacity at all levels, we work diligently to identify young performers and people with abilities from all walks of life. The development of UP and indeed all parts of the country is a continuous multi-generational affair and the guru-shishya traditions as well as contemporary leadership development methods have many aspects that merit broader adoption.
Q..What is the agenda for UP in terms of commerce and industry?
A: In my first term, I have brought in the necessary infrastructure development, energy generation capacity, distribution infrastructure, digital infrastructure, transportation – urban and intercity linkages, rural roads canals and water availability and public safety. I have requested my state to step up to the challenges of becoming a $1 trillion economy in the shortest period of time. UP and its adjoining regions were historically suppressed and colonised for over one thousand years since the sack of Mathura in 1018 and Kannauj in 1019. After the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and the War of Independence in 1857, the exploitation of the present-day UP region was such that there was zero GDP growth in this region for 200 years.
Ironically, in the first 50 years, the Fabian socialist model of Nehru ensured that people were kept inside the poverty trap and then UP missed out in the liberalisation era post 1991 as it had very limited mandates. The subsequent rule of SP and others by using fragmented vote bank politics created deteriorating social, security and business/commerce environments. The $1 trillion initiative that we will embark on with an even bigger mandate for our second term will help UP make up for lost time and offer its people accelerated development and wealth creation opportunities. This challenge will mean an improvement in all sectors of UP’s economy. UP’s development will create many symbiotic partnerships as being a part of the Ganga Basin economy and with linkages to neighbouring states and Bengal – with which we share the gifts and blessings of Ma Ganga and the riverine civilizational values – will create many new opportunities for us to weave relationships in business, commerce, industry supply chains, talent in human resources and more. When pilgrims come to Vrindavan and Mathura, there will be many who may include visits to Malda where Jiva Goswami was born.
Likewise, visitors to the puja festivities in Bengal may like to complete the circuit by visiting the Deepavali celebrations of Ayodhya. The concept of “othering” and blind dogmatic upholding of one’s uniqueness and exceptionalism is alien to the great civilization of Bharat. We see our efforts to raise the levels of production, productivity and engagement of our population to grow, create wealth, liberate women and youth, and to truly enjoy and respect the diversity of others without being crippled by having to conform to alien prejudices that are extrinsic to our real character. The foundations of safety, security, establishment of rule of law and great infrastructure in UP will create many opportunities for all Indians and empower India as we raise the standards of nearly one sixth of the Indian population. We have further improved upon providing jobs to the youth by taking various measures including “skilled mapping”.
Measures were taken to increase the number of people taking loans from banks from 40 to 57 per cent. We provided a push to the MSME sector, increased training of people and used technology on a large scale and as a result, unemployment is down from 17.2 in 2016-17 to 3.1 per cent at present. We also provided a unique model of One District One Product which is being replicated nationally besides turning out to be an export hub.