Yogi Adityanath will complete six months in office as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh a week from now. His day starts early — from 7 am, he is on the phone with officers in the districts, and he meets people till late at night. The Indian Express catches up with him at his official residence at 5, Kalidas Marg, Lucknow.
You will soon complete six months in office. What have been the five big achievements of your government?
We have been successful in getting people to trust the government. People of Uttar Pradesh now feel secure and the entire country’s mindset about UP is changing. Investors have started approaching us, they want to come and invest in UP. We have shown transparency in governance and established the rule of law. It was our commitment and we have fulfilled this.
We have attacked the roots of corruption. We are working for the welfare of farmers, youths in the same way as Modiji’s government is doing at the central level. We have waived farmer loans and we have done this without imposing any extra tax or burden on the people, without taking any loan. We have started to connect with farmers for their all-round development. We are committed to doubling their income. This year, we purchased wheat directly from farmers without middlemen. We have taken a step forward on employment as well. We have fixed a target of training 10 lakh youth within a year.
But no investment can come if the law and order situation is bad. In UP, the local mafia make it difficult for investors. Barring Noida and Ghaziabad, industries hardly flourish in other parts of the state.
There has been no riot in Uttar Pradesh in the last five months. There was only one case of kidnapping in Jhansi; the kidnapped businessman was freed and the abductors were neutralised. Criminals, who had earlier been active with the protection of politicians, are either leaving the state or are returning to jail because they are getting their bail cancelled. The first condition of investment is the rule of law and I know that. In this direction, I can say we are now successful. There was a small period when we felt crime was increasing but it has gone down rapidly. Nobody is allowed to break the law.
We are connecting every skill development centre to industries and we have so far trained around 6 lakh youth in several trades for their employment and self-employment. I have visited several such centres, heard their experiences.
We have abolished the VIP culture in electricity distribution. Earlier, five districts would get electricity on priority. Now, every district will be treated the same. We have decided that all district headquarters will get 24-hour electricity, tehsil headquarters and Bundelkhand will get 20 hours and rural areas will get 18 hours’ supply a day. There are around 1 crore people who are drawing electricity illegally. We have started legalising their power connections. We have already legalised 10 lakh among them. Electricity distribution is impartial, people are accepting this fact now.
We have stopped illegal mining, we have stopped illegal slaughter, we have constituted an anti-land grab task force. We have registered around 1.53 lakh cases of land-grabbing in the state.
There are allegations that officers of a particular caste have been replaced with officers of another caste, that nothing has changed.
These are allegations from people who are tired, who are defeated. I cannot say that things have changed 100 per cent, but in comparison to earlier governments, there has been 75 per cent improvement. We are waiting for the arrival of sufficient forces. People will realise that the remaining 25 per cent situation too will change. This change is being witnessed at the ground level. That is why during my surprise visits, I always go to primary schools, police stations, hospitals, tehsils, mandi samitis (agricultural produce market committees). During the recent floods, I visited each of the affected districts, ministers went there, senior officers were camping there. There was not a single complaint of mismanagement of flood relief from any district, not a single complaint of post-flood diseases. That has been the impact of our administration.
In the last 15 years, the state has had chief ministers who were either Dalit or OBC. So how do you ensure these communities do not feel alienated?
People of this state have already decided that caste and family politics is over. How much will they loot in the name of caste, in the name of family? Leaders of SP and BSP have not taken care of even their own castes. Posts are vacant. They decided recruitment but there were many loopholes in their system. We gave an affidavit in court and removed the deficiencies. Now we are going to recruit over 40,000 policemen. In the next three years, we will provide employment to 1.5 lakh people in police. We are going to bring full transparency in UPPSC (UP Public Service Commission), in teacher recruitment, subordinate selection commission, everywhere. We have already abolished the interview system for all Group C, D posts. These are big changes. We will not do any injustice to any talented person in the name of caste or religion. The BJP has decided the agenda for future politics in this state — it will not be on the basis of caste, religion but on the basis of development, farmer welfare, women’s safety, welfare of youth. No caste will be neglected.
The situation in the education sector is alarming. Primary teachers hardly teach in schools, there are allegations that they work for local politicians and village pradhans, more than 50 per cent posts of teachers at the intermediate level are vacant, over 70 per cent of intermediate schools are being run unaided and the quality of education is at its lowest.
We have felt that education in the state needs to change entirely. We have taken many initiatives. We have brought total transparency in transfers and postings. The roles of middlemen and corruption have been removed. No recommendation of a politician or a bureaucrat is needed. In our ‘School Chalo’ campaign which we started in July, we admitted 1.53 crore new students in primary schools. This is above the target of 1.36 crore students.
We have asked government officers and elected representatives to adopt at least one school in their area and develop it as a model school. We have changed around 1,000 schools with this initiative. We have chalked out a grand plan for education. From the next session, the syllabi of primary, intermediate and, if necessary, at the higher education level as well, will be changed. We are already working on it. The new syllabus is going to be introduced with effect from the next session.
Around 50 per cent teacher posts are vacant in intermediate education. We have around 10,000 surplus teachers at the primary level and we are going to adjust them in intermediate colleges. We are changing the syllabus with an eye on making students competitive at the All-India level.
It’s the first time that the BJP has secured such a huge majority. There is a very weak Opposition. What are the challenges with such a weak Opposition? And how do you satisfy your 325 MLAs?
In our party, BJP, every MLA thinks of the state’s development and raises issues of his or her area. I am not sitting here in Lucknow all the time. I have been travelling across the state, visiting district after district. I have already taken one round of the state. I visited the commissionary level in the first round. I have started the second round and will reach every district. The third round will be to every tehsil. After that, I will reach every block level in the fourth round. From such visits, one will witness change everywhere. It will take time to improve the system which became rotten in the last 15 years. But we will change it for sure.
It is said that you rely more on officials and neglect political people…
If I am to perform here, I will need to rely on somebody. I rely on people who can deliver. We also take note of what elected representatives say. With their help, we are going ahead.
In every BJP-ruled state, it is said that the success or failure of a chief minister depends on coordination with the RSS. Some in your government claim senior RSS functionaries have a big say, particularly in transfers and postings.
There is no interference in the administration. But with the Vichar Parivar (ideological family), we sit together time to time. They get ground-level feedback. We take it from them. There is no interference in administration, be it transfers, postings or any other work.
Transfers and postings are said to be one form of corruption in UP. Ideally, these should be done by June-end. But one of the departments under you, Commercial Tax, is still releasing transfer lists of senior officers. Orders are not being placed in the public domain, and officers are being told directly. Why this lack of transparency?
That was delayed with my permission. We delayed it due to GST implementation. All transfers there are with my permission. Those are of people who were at one location for years. We have done it under a new transfer policy.
Another allegation of corruption is that files are kept pending at the secretariat for months. What are you doing to make officers accountable?
Those days are gone. Now if any file is pending for more than three days, we ask them the reason for the delay and fix responsibility. They cannot hold any file for more than three day now. Here, everybody is being made accountable. Nobody can escape if he has held up files or committed a wrongdoing.
The state bureaucracy is divided on caste lines, more than politicians. How do you tackle this problem?
The bureaucracy always goes with the way politicians go. The political leadership has now changed. The bureaucracy is also moving in that direction. When we came to power, we gave [officers] a copy of our Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra (BJP manifesto) and told them that they have to implement that. Everybody is doing that. With IAS officers, I have been holding regular meetings, listening to their presentations on the progress of work on implementation of the Sankalp Patra. I do not depend on my office alone, I do it myself. We evaluate this progress every week.
In Gorakhpur, you sent doctors to jail after the death of children in a government-run hospital. It appears as if you are treating this problem of hospital mismanagement as a law and order problem. Would you call it a harsh step against doctors?
It was not a harsh step. First, the Gorakhpur incident was presented in the wrong way, with wrong facts. But it was clear from this incident that there were some people in the system who wanted to destroy it deliberately. Harsh action was needed against such people. This was a must to teach them a lesson. There were lapses and we are here to fix responsibility. There was an agreement between the buyer and supplier. If the government was releasing money, then why was the payment not being made? Then, if somebody is working in the government and doing private practice, action is a must. They were misusing government money. The supplier is also guilty since he stopped the supply. The Gorakhpur incident and the government’s action will be a lesson for such people.
You have always been for cow protection. There have been incidents at several places. What do you have to say on that?
There was not a single incident in the state in these months [since he took charge]. It did not happen because we stopped illegal slaughter here.
There have been incidents involving your Hindu Yuva Vahini. What is the future of the Hindu Yuva Vahini now that you are in power?
It is a purely cultural organisation and a non-political one. They are advised to work for the development of society like in the fields of education, rural development, healthcare etc.
You have visited Ayodhya thrice since taking charge as Chief Minister. Do you think the Ayodhya issue will be a factor in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections?
This is pending before the Honorable Supreme Court. They are hearing it on regular basis. The other way is to settle it out of court. We are waiting for their decision.
For decades, UP has been a supplier of unskilled labour to the country. People go everywhere for livelihood because there are no opportunities here for employment or self-employment, no industry. Do you have a plan to ensure that people need not migrate for a livelihood and people from other states come here for employment?
We have already implemented an industrial policy which focuses on employment generation. Investors have liked that. We have vocational education centres, skill development centres, we have so many things. All this is a foundation for that. You will see in the next two, three years, people of UP living in other states will start returning here for employment and self-employment in their villages, their region, their district. In the coming days, UP will be able to give employment to people of other states as well.
Some opinion polls suggest that you are becoming popular. Some people say that one day you may replace Narendra Modi in Delhi…
The party has given me the responsibility of making UP an ideal state. I will face the challenges of UP. We will make UP an ideal state. People of the state and the Government of India are fully cooperating with me. UP will be an example for India.