Without convening a single cabinet meeting in his opening week as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath has spring-boarded 50 policy decisions – following through on the promises that his party waged before Prime Minister Narendra Modi won India’s most populous state for the BJP with unquestionable authority.
The 44-year-old Yogi Adityanath, a monk in saffron clothes, has stressed that his policies will be fair and enforced equally upon all sections of society -a counter to critics who allege that in choosing a Hindu hardliner known for inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric, the PM has made it clear that his party will seek to implement a more radical agenda in the bellwether state.
“Na jaati, na mazhab,” said the Chief Minister on Saturday in his home turf of Gorakhpur after taking office. Neither caste, nor religion will colour his government, he said, adding that appeasement will find no room in his administration.
The BJP and its top leaders have repeatedly accused previous governments of favouring Muslims, who make up about 20 per cent of Uttar Pradesh’s population, for electoral reasons – a charge that resonated heavily with the state’s Hindus who collated around the party allowing it a massive victory. Like PM Narendra Modi, Yogi Adityanath has said that from here on, Uttar Pradesh’s future will be shaped by one mantra alone: “sabka saath, sabka vikas” (development for all).
Among the Chief Minister’s early and headline-stealing initiatives are the crackdown on slaughterhouses, run mainly by Muslims, and the dispatching of police squads to secure women from sexual harassment and stalking in public places. Both the “anti-Romeo squads”, as they are known, and the police inspecting slaughterhouses have been cautioned publicly by Yogi Adityanath against over-reach; they have been told not to harass couples in the name of safety patrols and ensure that lockdown is forced upon slaughterhouses that are either functioning illegally or violating environmental laws.
“He is like a God to us,” said Kiran Rana, the mother of one of the 14 men arrested over the killing of 50-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq on suspicion of killing a cow in 2015.
“He will get them (our children) out,” she said to news agency AFP in the village of Bishara, barely 20 miles from central Delhi.
The village only has electricity from seven in the evening to the next morning. Potholes cover the main road, and jobs are in short supply. Asked what she hopes to get from the priest-turned-politician, Rana said simply, “development”.
Her brother-in-law, Rajiv Rana, thought his priority should be to ensure that cows are protected.
“The cow is our mother. When we prepare food, the first bite goes to our cow. If we have to choose between the cow and development we will choose the cow,” he said.
Hindus and Muslims alike in Bishara told AFP that they hope Yogi Adityanath will rule in the name of both their communities, and will focus on improving life in the region.
The Chief Minister has said that while the turnaround may be a challenge, his government will not be found wanting for effort.
Yesterday, during a triumphant return to his home town of Gorakhpur, the Chief Minister warned, “Those who can work for 18-20 hours every day can remain with us, others can go their own way.”.
To diminish the infamous VIP culture, he has asked for security and lal batti privileges to be reviewed to weed out unnecessary beneficiaries. He has also ordered his ministers to furnish details of their assets and wealth within 15 days