Yogi Adityanath, both as an administrator and a politician aspiring to make his mark, cannot remain content with bettering his predecessors. He has to measure up to the extraordinary expectations from him.
For this, he will have to tame, tackle and leash an obstinate, lethargic and corrupt state machinery.
If you were visiting Uttar Pradesh (UP) after a gap of three to four months, you would possibly be driving on better roads and certainly experiencing better power supply. You have a good chance to see government employees in offices as early as 10 in the morning. You are also likely to see a good number of doctors in government hospitals.
And though there is some sort of responsiveness in Uttar Pradesh Police, there isn’t much respite for the beleaguered from their highhandedness. Also, despite the government ordering probes into some of the previous government’s projects and functioning of three development authorities, there is no let up in everyday corruption in government offices.
Summarising all of the above, the impression that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s four months in office give is that of a well meaning government struggling against a corrupt and obdurate bureaucracy.
There is a lot which the new government is working on, although. It is formulating a new education as well as a new industrial policy. The identification of these two core sectors, along with the dire need to upgrade physical infrastructure, as primary concerns is commendable. The government, as with employees in other departments, is working on biometric attendance for school teachers. It has decided to introduce English from Class I in all the schools while asking students of Classes XI and XII to learn at least one foreign language. It has begun a process to identify examination centres notorious for mass cheating.
In an attempt to drive industrial growth, the UP government has proposed a “Make In UP” initiative. It has announced a 100 per cent exemption in stamp duty for industries being set up in Bundelkhand and Poorvanchal and 75 per cent exemption in stamp duty for industries in West and Central UP. To achieve cohesion and economies of scale, the new industrial policy also envisages city specific industrial clusters. Country specific industrial zones for foreign investors are also on the anvil.
Though the 15 June deadline for pothole free roads is now extended by another two months, the government is committed to increasing the coverage of both rural roads and state highways. Rs 2 lakh crore worth of road projects are expected to start soon. Mathura-Varanasi and Jhansi- Gorakhpur expressways on the lines of Agra-Lucknow expressway have been announced. After Lucknow and Kanpur, surveys have begun for Metrorail in Agra, Gorakhpur and Meerut. The project report of Varanasi Metrorail project is ready but is being revised. Twenty five new medical colleges and 20 agricultural research centres are being planned. On the delivery front, Rs 36,000 crore for farm loans waivers have already been provided. Ninety per cent of sugarcane dues for 2016-17 have been cleared. The amount is 60 per cent higher than the corresponding numbers for the last sugarcane crushing season.
However, the real challenge for the Adityanath government comes at the implementation stage. Whether it is the developmental projects or for the law and order situation to improve, the Chief Minister will have to tame, tackle and leash an obstinate, lethargic and corrupt state machinery. After suspensions and surprise checks in the beginning, initial anxiety amongst the employees is slipping back into complacency.
All said, and despite the din over gaurakshaks in Lutyens media, a modicum of governance is visible in the state. The difference from the previous Akhilesh Yadav regime is palpable and recognised. But Adityanath, both as an administrator and a politician aspiring to make his mark, cannot remain content with bettering his predecessors. He has to measure up to the expectations from him.
The biggest obstacle in front of the Chief Minister remains the UP Police. Politicised and demotivated top brass and large number of rank and file recruited by corrupt and nepotistic regimes make it as much of a problem as an institution of purpose it is supposed to be. In one of its many disasters, an ambitious drive to round up land mafia was thwarted at various levels. Situation in Saharanpur spiralled out of control because of police inaction. And though the police is more reactive in responding to communal violence than earlier, lodging complaints at police stations is still not easy. Complaints of hiding part of loots recovered are routine. In a high profile kidnapping case in western UP, where police patted its own back for quick release of the victims, rumours are rife that a large sum was paid to kidnappers. Though DGP Sulkhan Singh has assured a reformed police in the near future, it is well understood that a push for change will have to be political and not just bureaucratic.
Years of lawlessness, mismanagement, visionless leadership and populism has rendered UP one of the toughest states to govern. In the ensuing challenge to bring governance back on track, it also offers political leadership the chance to prove its mettle. As Chief Minister of UP, Adityanath has a chance to move from the league of ordinary politicians and prove himself as extraordinary. The sweeping 2017 mandate and general enthusiasm at his elevation as UP Chief Minister anticipated not mere tinkering but a radical change from him.