PM Modi’s spree of inaugurating projects worth billions ahead of polls can’t whitewash BJP’s misgovernance
Voters are perceptive enough to realise that last minute promises of development are just a trick out of the ruling party’s playbook during election season to garner votes
With the Assembly election in Uttar Pradesh around the corner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying his best to ‘develop’ the state by inaugurating development projects worth thousands of crores of rupees. He seems to have risen from slumber only a couple of months ago when election surveys started prediction a sharp fall in BJP’s electoral fortune. Then, in the beginning of November 2021, Uttar Pradesh was ranked as a big state with the worst governance.
Modi is also all out to end the “cycle of corruption” in the state, unleashing central agencies that have been conducting raids all over the place just before the elections.
Obviously, all this smacks of politics since they are making copious references to earlier governments that allegedly did not develop Uttar Pradesh. Everyone indulges in politics during polls, but BJP specialises in politics of hatred and communalism, hoping to provoke non-Hindu communities and cause a polarization of Hindu votes in its favour. It is only further proof that the state is worst governed, as it was ranked only two months ago.
In the November ranking, as per the Public Affairs Index prepared by Public Affairs Centre, Uttar Pradesh scored the last rank of 18 for the quality of its governance among the big states of the country. It was despite the fact that our so-called champions of good governance, Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath has been ruling the state for about 4 and half years while PM Modi has, of course, been ruling the country for 7 and half years. They also have a habit of blaming others for their own failure and maladministration during their own tenures.
The Public Affairs Index was a composite score for three broad factors – growth, equity, and sustainability – which were based on 43 indicators. Just before the Yogi government came to power, the state ranked 12 in the same index.
In 2017, the state slipped to 14th, further slipped to 17th in 2019, and 18th in 2020, the bottom that it retains even in 2021.
On ‘Good Governance Day’ on December 25 last, Union Minister of Home Amit Shah had released the Good Governance Index 2021 prepared by the Department of Administration Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG). Though it said that Uttar Pradesh has increased its score by 8.9 compared to the score in 2019, it was only to conceal the start reality that it scored only 4.63, only a little more than 4.25.
Uttar Pradesh was placed among eight states in Group B which also included Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, and West Bengal. Among these eight, Uttar Pradesh ranked 5th, while Madhya Pradesh ranked first.
Uttar Pradesh performed better than only Bihar, Odisha, and West Bengal. Uttar Pradesh ranked 7th in Group B in Agriculture and allied sectors, Public Infrastructure and Utility, Economic Governance, and Social Welfare and Development, and 8th in Public Health Sector.
The Index was difficult to understand for common people and hence it becomes easy for the Modi government to claim that UP is doing well, against the ground reality.
Take the example of the public health sector, for which Uttar Pradesh was ranked 8th among the Group B states in the Good Governance Index. To understand it better, one needs to see how this ranking translates into the NITI Aayog’s Health Index 2021, released just a few days after on December 27, 2021.
In this fourth edition of the Health Index 2019-20, Uttar Pradesh ranked worst in India in terms of overall health performance among 19 large states, somehow exceeding only pass marks by scoring 30.57 per cent.
Contrary to this ground reality, the Yogi government in Uttar Pradesh and Modi government at the Centre have been praising Uttar Pradesh for good governance, ease of doing business, development, and high incremental performance only to show a rosy picture of the state to prevent an adverse political fallout in the coming assembly election.
To save BJP in the election, PM Modi himself has been inaugurating innumerable projects in Uttar Pradesh for the last few months to show how serious they are regarding development in Uttar Pradesh in a bid to gaslight people into believing that if they vote for BJP, all the inaugurated projects would be completed soon.
On several occasions, Modi has also not refrained from a veiled threat to the voter, referring to “double engine”, i.e. both the Centre and state governments led by the BJP for speedy development. An analysis of his language indicates that if states don’t vote BJP to power, their development would not be smooth under the Union led by BJP. Such a temptation or threat, whatever it may be, is neither democratic nor according to the principle of free and fair elections.
Among Modi’s ‘gifts’ to the electorate of UP are: inaugurating multiple development projects on November 19 worth Rs 3,240 crore, Noida airport phase one worth Rs 10,050 crore on November 25, three Mega Projects – AIIMS, ICMR and Fertiliser Plant worth Rs 9,600 crore on December 7, Saryu Canal project worth Rs 9802 crore on December 11, transferred Rs 1000 crore to the bank accounts of self-help group apart from several development projects including an expressway worth Rs 22,496 crore and airport worth Rs 260 crore on December 21, multiple development projects worth Rs 2,095 crore on December 23.
Modi is on an inauguration spree worth billions of rupees in poll-bound states. However, the billion-dollar question is whether it is fair to do so ethically vis-à-vis opposition political parties that cannot perform such public spectacles when elections are around the corner. A disproportionately large number of inaugurations in the last few months while doing only a little in 4 and half years of a five-year tenure must be interpreted as ‘tempting or bribing voters’.
The suffering people of Uttar Pradesh must take note of what was actually delivered by the governments and election season raids to stem “corruptions” that were allowed during almost the full tenure of the ruling establishments.
Views are personal