It may be far from reality but the saffron-clad Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is desperate to prove that he is ushering in ‘Ram Rajya’ in the country’s most populous state. It is this urge that has led Yogi to resorting to falsehood, tall claims, interesting jargons and organising high profile events.
While making oft-repeated proclamations about bringing good governance to this state, he commenced this exercise by declaring an “encounter” war across the state. Yogi found that to be the most convenient way to cover up his failure on the law and order front. And sure enough, the statistics did create a sensation. The cops took part in 1,100 encounters in a matter of barely three months. The figures could have really put the fear of God in all outlaws. But soon it was discovered that the number of encounters did not mean gunning down of that many number of criminals. “Encounter does not mean killing,” clarifies a top police official. “It simply means taking on criminals; the actual number of criminals who were killed in these encounters are only 41,” he added. “We should be call it ‘crackdown’—not encounters”, he hastily added.
But as time went by, even this ‘crackdown’ did not appear to be as simple as it was made to seem. And so it turned out that an innocent person was also gunned down by some trigger-happy cops who sought to cover it up under the much hyped “encounters”. Only time will expose as to how many other such “fake” encounters have taken place.
Apparently quite satisfied with his “encounters”, Yogi got down to establishing that he was also capable of turning UP around on the economic front. And he thought of again putting up a façade about the state becoming a favoured investment destination. What followed was a huge PR exercise titled as ‘Investors Summit’, commencing on February 21. And to give it more credibility than many such rituals carried out by previous governments, both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind were roped in to inaugurate the mega event spread over two days. Besides, nearly two dozen Union ministers took part in various sessions at the do.
How many hundreds of crores have been spent on the preparations behind the show that was preceded by a massive media advertisement campaign, besides much cosmetic changes in the state capital, is anybody’s guess.
A curtain raiser press conference held by UP Industry Minister Satish Mahana on February 19 claimed that 900 MOUs were already in store and more were in the pipeline. He also informed the media that India’s top industrialists including Ratan Tata, Mukesh and Anil Ambani, Kumarmangalam Birla, Gautam Adani, Adi Godrej and many other biggies were set to grace the occasion.
All roads leading to the venue at Indira Gandhi Pratisthan in Lucknow have been decked up as never before to impress the prospective investor. Every lamp post along the route from the Lucknow airport has an investors summit poster while hundreds of hoardings adorn both sides of the road.
Interestingly, all the cosmetic changes are Yogi’s way of conveying that he has done his bit to transform the state. In a recent interview to a leading English daily, he said, “Ten months back, when I was sent by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah to don the mantle of the Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh was in a pathetic condition. Things were so bad that when I tried speaking to some bankers, they would not even take our phone calls because they never considered UP as any investment destination. But today it is a changed scenario.”
He went on to claim, “today we have converted UP into such an investor- friendly state that everyone is making a beeline here.”
However, the Chief Minister could not explain what magic he had done to change the investment climate of the state where the power situation continues to remain plagued and law and order has not improved much from the Samajwadi Party days. Rapes and other heinous crimes against women continue with impunity, while murders, loots, caste and communal rioting are on the rise.
Yet, Yogi claims that he has done wonders. The fact of the matter is that investment marts and meets have been carried out at repeated intervals by different governments over the past several decades. The visibility of top industrialists at such fora is also not new. MOUs too have been signed with much enthusiasm in the past. But only very rarely have these crystallised.
Yogi’s men have been painstakingly trying to impress upon all and sundry that this is going to be different from past exercises. And the Chief Minister too does not tire of proclaiming, “We will ensure proper follow-up of each of the MOUs and you will see how every MOU turns into concrete reality.”
What Yogi does not seem to realise is that things are easier said than done. Perhaps his background as “mathadheesh” (head of a temple trust) leads him to make believe that his spoken word was the reality. Even after ten months of being on the Chief Minister’s chair, this realisation has not dawned on him that Uttar Pradesh is not the same thing as Gorakhnath Temple Trust and that 20 crore people of the state were a different kettle of fish from the followers of the trust he was so used to receiving obeisance from.