Saf­fron Sa­trap

YOGI ADITYANATH, 45

India Today - - OTHER NEWS MAKER - —Ashish Misra

The Hin­dutva war­rior moved from fringe to main­stream, be­com­ing the prime mover of saf­fro­ni­sa­tion in Ut­tar Pradesh and is likely to emerge as an im­por­tant cam­paigner in the BJP’s Mis­sion 2019

He has given Lucknow a whole new rou­tine. Since March 19, the day 45-year-old Yogi Adityanath was sworn in as Ut­tar Pradesh’s new chief min­is­ter, there’s been a un­prece­dented buzz around Pan­cham Tal, the state sec­re­tariat be­hind the Vid­han Bha­van. The CM’s of­fice, lo­cated on the fifth floor of the build­ing, now painted saf­fron, is the nerve cen­tre that is driv­ing In­dia’s most pop­u­lous state. ‘Yogi’, as he’s re­ferred to, has set a timetable for his 47-mem­ber coun­cil of min­is­ters, of­ten sum­mon­ing them for meet­ings that go on till the wee hours.

“All Ut­tar Pradesh min­is­ters have been asked to stay in Lucknow and meet their rep­re­sen­ta­tives for the first two days of ev­ery week,” says cabi­net min­is­ter Srikant Sharma. Tues­day is des­ig­nated for cabi­net meet­ings. Says Sharma, “The CM has al­ready chaired more than 30 cabi­net meet­ings since March 19,” which, he claims, is more than the num­ber of times min­is­ters met un­der the

Bahu­jan Sa­maj Party and Sa­ma­jwadi Party gov­ern­ments.

Yogi is also push­ing to rid the ad­min­is­tra­tion of dead­wood. Post a screen­ing of all of­fi­cials above the age of 50, Yogi or­dered over a dozen pro­vin­cial ser­vice of­fi­cers to be com­pul­so­rily re­tired or ter­mi­nated. More than 100 slack­ers in the sec­re­tariat have been de­moted to send a strict mes­sage across state’s of­fi­cial­dom: ‘Per­form or per­ish!’

Even as he’s crack­ing the whip to push his babus, Yogi has been qui­etly but firmly pur­su­ing the BJP’s Hin­dutva agenda. The state’s in­au­gu­ral bud­get, passed by the UP as­sem­bly in July, al­lo­cated over Rs 2,000 crore to de­velop Hindu re­li­gious cen­tres such as Ay­o­d­hya, Mathura, Chi­trakoot and Varanasi. He is also pre­par­ing to push the Cen­tre’s de­vel­op­ment agenda to rid UP of its BIMARU tag. He has an­nounced a se­ries of in­fra­struc­ture projects, from metro rails to ex­press­ways, and an air­port at Je­war, in or­der to show­case the Cen­tre’s de­vel­op­ment agenda in the state.

MA­NEESH AGNIHOTRI

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