Uttar Pradesh’s Yogi
Adityanath has the ability to silence critics
Perceptions, often shaped by presumptions, tend to make people jump to conclusions and also jump the gun. Yogi Adityanath's elevation as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh has set off a furious debate in the media and elsewhere on whether dangerous days are ahead in the State for the minorities (read secularism) with the Bharatiya Janata Party's choice. This thinking is not only premature but also mischievous. Even before Yogi Adityanath had taken over and made his first decisions, critics had begun to second guess his intent. They failed to take into account his remark, soon after his name was announced, that he and the Government that he will head, would stick to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Sabka saath, sabka vikas formula. Even during the election campaigning, Yogi Adityanath had told the media that a BJP Government — he had predicted that the party would get a huge majority and be way ahead of its rivals — would adhere to the party manifesto (sankalp patra), which spoke of inclusive development. Besides, the Yogi has repeatedly reiterated that he has no quarrel with people of any religion, but was opposed to those who spoke and worked against the nation. Surely, these statements cannot be faulted. The new Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister is known for simple living and a no-nonsense approach to issues that he believes harm the national cause. While he does have a reputation (again, thanks to distortions by opponents) for being politically incorrect, few will deny the enormous popularity he enjoys as a pan-Uttar Pradesh leader. The BJP's sweeping win in the Assembly election, and particularly in eastern Uttar Pradesh which had been the Samajwadi Party's stronghold, has been fairly credited to him. There is absolutely no doubt that he has been the most popular State leader. While there are people who cannot resist the temptation to judge him negatively even before he has got going, fairness demands that he be given time to prove his credentials. Those holding on to the old template ought to have discarded it by now; they clung to it in 2014 regarding Narendra Modi and were soundly punished.
As a five-time Member of Parliament and an active party worker, Yogi Adityanath knows the problems of the State inside out, and can be expected to get cracking to set the house in order. He has his work cut out. Law and order has gone haywire, development has been far from inclusive, policy paralysis (not least due to the internal wrangling within the then ruling Samajwadi Party) has cost the State, and appeasement politics has benefited none — least of all those who were preferentially targeted. Uttar Pradesh is still a laggard, while others such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan (which, together with Uttar Pradesh, formed the infamous BIMARU group) have forged ahead. It's not a coincidence that while the last two States have BJP Governments, in whose tenures development has rapidly happened, Bihar too saw a new high during the coalition regime of the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) and the BJP. Yogi Adityanath's image of a doer and a decisive leader in the Modi mould should fix many problems the State faces. But, as the new Chief Minister well realises, turning around Uttar Pradesh is a challenging task. He does not have all the time in the world.
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