Yogi@1: What Made the Public Reject the BJP’s ‘Yogi Raj’?

The BJP that executed encounters as a state policy, received a political encounter by the public instead.

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“May God never grant anyone such a gift on their first birthday” is probably what Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanth’s well-wishers are saying.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that carried out encounters as a state policy, ended up at the receiving end of a political encounter by the public in the UP by-elections. The party not only lost Yogi’s Gorakhpur seat, they also lost Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya’s Phulpur seat.

The BJP leaders, who were singing songs of victory over Tripura until recently, are today humming the poem of their ‘guide’ Atal Bihari Vajpayee:

These are unveiled faces, their scars very deep
The spell broken
I stand in fear of truth today
I sing songs no more

What made the public completely reject the ‘Yogi raj’ that has been running UP for the past one year?

The Quint investigates.

Leading a population of 22 crore people is no easy job – but when Yogiji came to power, it seemed like he would change everything. On 19 March 2017, when Yogi took charge of UP, his biggest challenge was law and order.

To this end, three steps were taken:

  1. Anti-Romeo squads,
  2. Ban on slaughter houses
  3. Free reign to encounters

Anti-Romeo Squads

In the beginning, the ‘Anti-Romeo’ squads captured headlines – but no clear guidelines were formulated for the police. Incidents of unnecessary harassment of boys and girls became common.

Today, there is no sign of that squad.

In the beginning, the anti-Romeo squads captured headlines.
In the beginning, the anti-Romeo squads captured headlines.
File Photo

Ban on Slaughter Houses

The ban on slaughter houses in Uttar Pradesh right after the BJP government took charge was advertised by Yogiji as one of his achievements.

This step created fear among Muslims. Under the guise of gau raksha, stories of harassment and even murders of people – most of whom were Muslims – became common.

Today, the biggest problem for UP’s farmers are the old abandoned cows who enter their farms during the night and destroy their crops.

Encounters

Under the Yogi government, the police were given such a free reign to carry out encounters that people started calling Uttar Pradesh ‘Encounter Pradesh.’

Questions were raised about police actions in some cases, but Yogiji stood firm on his decision. It seemed to be a direct message to miscreants – chant “Yogi-Yogi” if you want to stay in UP.

According to government estimates, in the past one year, the UP Police has killed 40 people in 1,200 encounters. This means there have been 100 encounters every month and at least three-four ‘criminals’ killed each month.

Communal Harmony

You must remember Kasganj. In the communal violence that was sparked off on 26 January, one person was killed while public life was brought to a standstill for days. The BJP’s promise of a fear-free India seemed to have gone up in smoke.

According to central government estimates, in 2017, Uttar Pradesh had the highest instances of communal violence.

Apart from Kasganj, there were 195 instances of communal violence in which 44 people were killed and 542 were left injured.

The Farmers’ Anger

Farmers who were upset at not getting the right price for their produce, dumped thousands of quintals of potatoes in front of Yogiji house and the Assembly.

In October 2017, farmers were so upset at the low cost of sugarcane that they burned it right outside the UP Assembly.

The government mentions loan waivers for farmers as a big achievement, but most farmers claim they haven’t benefited from it. Yogiji, the farmers are angry, and if they don’t come around, then reaping votes in 2019 will become difficult.

Healthcare

Just a few days after the BJP took charge, the issue of children’s deaths in Gorakhpur’s BRD Hospital became a nuisance for Yogi Adityanath.

According to Health and Family Welfare Department numbers, deaths caused by Japanese encephalitis have gone up in the last year. Cases of chikungunya and the number of deaths caused by dengue, though, have decreased.

In 2016, while 73 people died from Japanese Encephalitis, 80 died in the past year. Dengue claimed 42 deaths in 2016, while 28 succumbed to the disease in 2017. And while there were 2,458 cases of chikungunya in 2016, there were 94 in 2017.

Employment

In the recently concluded Investor Summit in Lucknow, Chief Minister Yogi promised to create 40 lakh jobs in the next three years. Hopefully, he hasn’t included roadside pakora vendors in this list.

He has also been talking about filling the three lakh empty positions in the police and Education Department. There are currently 1.37 lakh empty positions in the education sector, and 1.62 lakh empty positions in the police force.

But all these are just promises. How long, after all, can the youth live on mere promises?

Yogiji, I agree that you are the star campaigner. Your saffron garb reflects the mix of Hindutva and nationalism that is the BJP’s DNA. But will your ‘Singham’ image – formed due to your policy of encounters – be able to calm the restless youth? Will farmers be distracted from their troubles by the Hindu-Muslim divide?

The answer is no...

People have sent a message in these by-elections. Consider this message a warning, because there isn’t much time left till the 2019 general elections. As they say, the road to power to the Centre goes through UP.

(This story was first published on Hindi Quint)

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