Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath has too many promises to keep

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. PTI Photo
When he was Uttar Pradesh chief minister (2012-17), Akhilesh Yadav faced acerbic criticism from Mulayam Singh Yadav, his father and then ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) president. On many an occasion, the senior Yadav admonished his son for being “ineffective in keeping the bureaucracy on a leash” and the bureaucrats, rather than the chief ministers or his ministers, were calling the shots.

In the opposition then, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took note of this gleefully and spliced its attacks on Akhilesh with those of his father.

Now the boot is on the other leg. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath faces the same predicament of reining in the stubborn and powerful bureaucracy of the state.

With less than a year left for the Lok Sabha election, Adityanath would need more than just rhetoric and aggressive demeanour to deliver on things such as law and order, apart from the trinity of bijli, sadak and paani.

Without a proactive and willing bureaucracy, key projects would continue to fall behind schedule and disturb the calculus of the Adityanath government, which has been weaving the narrative of industrial development along with improving law and order, largely on the back of the UP Investors Summit 2018 and the ongoing UP police operations against listed criminals.

When Adityanath took oath of office on March 19 last year, the UP bureaucracy had started to factor in the changed dynamics under the perceptible hard task master. From day one, the monk-turned-politician adopted a regimented approach towards the bureaucracy, and that manifested in his brusque message to officials to either brace for working long hours or pack off. He followed up on his tough stance through long meetings, spot inspections, economising on government expenses, etc.

Pretty soon the state government had started working on its pre-poll promises while preparing to launch its own mega projects. Despite all the tough posturing and the out-of-the-box approach, it has not been able to complete any scheme or project. The crop loan waiver scheme of Rs 360 billion has met with only partial success, with implementation pangs, inefficiency, lack of coordination, and technicalities. The other flagship scheme — the Purvanchal Expressway — is awaiting formal launch. 

Ruling party leaders and sometimes ministers have publicly spoken about bureaucrats not heeding their recommendations. Recently, some BJP legislators wrote to Adityanath, saying no development had taken place in their districts in the current regime and that the previous dispensation was much better. They have warned if remedial measures are not taken soon, the Lok Sabha election 2019 will turn out to be a tough challenge for the saffron party.

Slipping Up
  • Purvanchal Expressway: The flagship project, estimated to cost Rs 190 billion, was supposed to be launched in March but bidding is incomplete. 
  • Investment proposals: The government had received investment proposals worth Rs 4.68 trillion during the UP Investors Summit 2018. None materialised.
  • Pothole-free roads: The government had announced ridding roads of potholes by June 2017. Task incomplete.
  • Free bags and shoes: At many places free school bags and shoes distributed among 15.4 million primary and upper primary students turned out to be substandard

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