At a press conference after he was sworn in on Sunday, UP chief minister Adityanath Yogi — while taking the oath the man from the monastic order inverted the sequence in his name, as it has been ordinarily in use — declared that he would focus on the state’s development as well as the law and order situation, which he said needed serious attention. Given the reputation that precedes the new CM, it may be some time before he is taken at face value. In the matter of what’s ordinarily understood to be development, the Yogi has no record of any kind. On law and order, he’s been known as a disrupter in his years as an active politician — booked for rioting and resorting to violent language to raise the communal pitch. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s profile has changed. Seeking to overcome his association in the public mind with the grave communal violence in Gujarat during his term as CM, he has sought to present himself to the country and the world as a leader who took the nation forward in industry, infrastructure and agriculture at a faster pace than his predecessors (although it’s too early to assess, and the record so far is patchy).
As such, the PM’s tweets of reassurance after the Yogi’s oath-taking in Lucknow are likely to calm nerves if the full-fledged BJP government in UP, whose extravagantly impressive mandate in the recent election far surpasses that of any earlier state government, can get off to a constructive start. It is necessary to say this, for BJP president Amit Shah had said on the campaign trail that the first act of a BJP government would be to shut down abattoirs and butcher shops. He stressed that pointless resolve to the media after the poll results were in. The CM, whose controversial appointment surprised everyone, will be well advised to think of better ways to get started. Uttar Pradesh is a state of 220 million people, and if it were a country it would be the world’s fifth most populous.
It is wretchedly poor. Infrastructure, agriculture and employment are the obvious areas to focus on.The PM noted quite rightly in his tweets that the economic development of UP was synonymous with the country’s development. To begin with, the Adityanath government could think to complete the many infrastructure projects his predecessor Akhilesh Yadav had started. The Adityanath government appears to be singularly lacking in administrative talent. Ministers have been chosen for their specialisation in Hindutva propaganda or to tick caste boxes to acknowledge election-time support. As such, a strong push from New Delhi will be needed if development is privileged over communal projects such as the Ram Mandir.