‘Stolen’ pictures of development make a mockery of UP’s voters

The Yogi Adityanath govt has little to show in terms of development. All that has developed in the last five years is the hate quotient

Beijing Daxing International Airport whose pic was hsared by several Union ministers & BJP leaders after foundation laying ceremony of Jewar airport in Noida
Beijing Daxing International Airport whose pic was hsared by several Union ministers & BJP leaders after foundation laying ceremony of Jewar airport in Noida

Ranjona Banerji

Uttar Pradesh, as we know, is the best developed state in India. Especially when an election is due.

It finds its airports are better than China’s. In fact it turns out that its airports are China’s. At least according to several ministers and members and supporters of the BJP.

Its dams are also the best. Better than those in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. In fact, it was an exact dam in Andhra and Telangana that is UP’s best.

Its flyovers are the best. Better than those in Kolkata. In fact, it was one of Kolkata’s flyovers.

To you and me, the new terminus of Beijing’s Daxing Airport may be in Beijing, the Srisailam Dam may span the Krishna river between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and the Maa Flyover may be a new icon in Kolkata’s urban landscape. But this is splitting hairs.

And this is UP. And this is the BJP’s biggest work at hand and for the last seven years: to win elections by any means possible. What are a few lies, you may argue. Politicians are like that. People are all liars at some point or other. The Congress did the same in 500 BC, the DMK in 1122 AD, the Left in 600 AD.

These arguments are just deflectors to get you to shut up and let the BJP continue on its course to destroy democratic India.

And UP is an integral part of that plan. As we’ve been told for years, UP rules India. Thus perhaps it is only natural that UP claims for itself achievements of the world.

Sadly, UP may rule India’s election tactics by its size and population. But its people are very badly done by. Its development indices are inversely proportionate to its importance. High on poverty, high on crimes against women, low on education and industry. No matter who has ruled UP it has been let down. I use the word “ruled” deliberately. Because it is hard to argue that UP has been governed. It has instead been manipulated along caste and communal lines to benefit political growth.

Even this fabulous new airport in Noida. It’s being built to serve the people of Delhi. Not the people of UP. Like that amazing Formula One race track. Anyone remember what happened to that?

Had the current UP government under the chief ministerial hand of Ajay Bisht also known as Yogi Adityanath, a mahant of the Gorakhnath Math temple, and founder of the rabidly communal Hindu Yuva Vahini, had several achievements under his belt, why not focus on those? Why steal photographs from other countries and other Indian states and claim those as your own?

The latest report released by the National Family Health Survey on November 24, 2021 shows why the lies are needed. The percentage of children who are severely wasted has increased from 6 percent in 2015-16 to 7.3 percent in 2020-21. The number of anaemic women in the 15-19 age group has gone up. There is a marginal improvement in the percentage of stunted and wasted children. But on all parameters, UP is worse than the national average. The infant mortality rate per 1000 live births for India is currently at 25.2 percent. For UP, the percentage is 50.4.

This is the state where Dr Kafeel Khan was arrested for arranging oxygen for dying children in a hospital in Gorakhpur in 2017.

This is the state where the number of deaths from Covid-19 in the second wave this year was so horrific that the banks of the Ganga became shallow graveyards and cremation grounds.

The figures for most such development indices in UP are below the national average.

Numbers wise, UP registers the largest number of crimes according to the latest National Crime Records Bureau figures, but percentage-wise it is not the highest. However, it remains at the top end of India’s scale.

That might suggest to some that the past five years have not materially changed the fortunes of the people of Uttar Pradesh.

But the hate quotient has definitely gone up.

And has been most effectively managed by the BJP, from its chief election manager Narendra Modi downwards. Adityanath burst into election mode by attacking Muslims, because that is what he does best and why he is popular and in a sense untouchable for any within the BJP who may see him as a threat.

Therefore, while it is amusing and telling that the BJP government in UP has to lie to prove its development credentials, the real skill of the BJP and of Adityanath/Bisht lie in far more dangerous territory. And there’s nothing to laugh about once you get there.

(Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and independent commentator. Views are personal)

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