One year into Yogi Adityanath’s second term as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP), it would be an opportune moment to examine the continuities and changes in governance from the CM’s first term in office.
The focus of Yogi’s first term was in creating infrastructure and a conducive law and order atmosphere for attracting investments for employment generation. That he was successful on both counts was evident in the thumping majority he received in 2022, becoming the first chief minister in decades to be re-elected in UP’s ultra-competitive electoral politics.
The notion of “suraksha” remains an important concern for the Yogi government, central as it was to his popular appeal in the first term. Attempts to demolish the power, networks and illegal operations of mafias are proceeding apace. While the recent operations of UP police against Atiq Ahmad and his gang in Prayagraj was a high-profile example of Yogi prioritising law and order, the UP police across cities are aggressively tackling landgrabbers and criminals.
The development of infrastructure such as roads, highways, airports and electricity is a continuing focus area in Yogi’s second term too. The fast evolving infrastructure is also contributing to speeding up the process of urbanisation in UP.
The implementation of various central government-sponsored welfare schemes tops the priorities in the second term too, as it was in his first stint in office. The implementation of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, various poverty alleviation schemes and pension schemes are being closely supervised by the CM in his meetings with bureaucrats of the state.
New Mantra: Investments
The new area of emphasis in Yogi’s second term is the focus on bringing investment into Uttar Pradesh. He believes that huge investments are needed to take forward the process of development, urbanisation and employment generation.
To attract investment, Yogi has personally led roadshows to various economic capitals in India and abroad. The UP Global Investors Summit 2023 has cast UP as a promising investment destination. In these interactions, Yogi has assured investors and industrialists of impeccable law and order, ample availability of land, and infrastructural support. Violence, crime and fear of lawlessness used to scare investors away from the state earlier. The bureaucracy is also being reoriented to become investor friendly.
Importantly, the government is also trying hard to strengthen medium and small enterprises (MSMEs) by encouraging local entrepreneurship in the economically backward zones such as Bundelkhand and eastern UP. The skill development projects of the state are trying to convert people from traditional occupations into traditional skill-based entrepreneurs. The “One District One Product” is finding many takers.
Even as the UP government is engaged in the glitzy work of attracting high-profile investments and industries, it hasn’t forgotten the importance of capacity enhancement among the rural poor to make use of these opportunities. A host of social welfare schemes and skilling is proceeding to ensure better human capital development.
Yogi’s first term had hit upon the strategy of strengthening pilgrim-centred tourism. This continues in his second stint too. Efforts are on to remake the infrastructure of various religious sites in districts such as Patan, Jhansi, Lalitpur and Ghazipur. Measures to improve tourism and pilgrimage infrastructure in Ayodhya, Kashi and Prayag are now poised to deliver good results.
Yogi’s governance model can be termed as a combination of developmental action and Hindutva. Recently, he had ordered all the district magistrates to organise “Ramayana Path” in all temples for the Navratri festival and the Durga Saptashati recitation in Shakti Peeths like Vindhyanchal. So far his attempts to weave religious culture and development together have been accepted. BJP’s electoral victories of 2019 and 2022 are evidence of his success on this score.
Challenges For Yogi
What are challenges for Yogi in the realm of politics and governance in this second phase? The opposition in Uttar Pradesh is not united, assertive or strong enough to pose a big challenge for Yogi Adityanath in either the assembly or in terms of drumming up support on the streets.
Nevertheless, the opposition does have immense possibilities to regain their lost social base. Parties like the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have a broad social base in Uttar Pradesh society. So, the first challenge for Yogi is framing the right political strategy to ensure that the social bases of these two parties do not flock back.
Here he needs to strengthen and renew the social welfare schemes for the poor by constantly reviewing their requirements and assessing the mood of the beneficiaries. Secondly, in the realm of governance, his government needs to formulate innovative policies for bringing long-term developmental transformation in this second tenure in office.
This is where the nature of bureaucracy needs to become investor-friendly and they need to develop a more sensitive approach towards the people, especially the downtrodden and marginalised in society. Time will tell how the measures taken by Yogi and the interplay of socio-political and economic factors make a difference to the people of the state. But for Yogi, 2024 is the next big test awaiting him in a fascinating political journey.
Badri Narayan is Director, GB Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad, and author of “Republic of Hindutva: How the Sangh Is Reshaping Indian Democracy”. Views are personal and do not represent the stand of this publication.