India Today - - CONTENT - Pho­to­graphs by BANDEEP SINGH

An ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Yogi Adityanath as he com­pletes two and a half years as chief min­is­ter

The jour­ney of Yogi Adityanath, from being the ma­hant of a prom­i­nent re­li­gious or­der to the chief min­is­ter of Ut­tar Pradesh, was me­te­oric. Equally in­ter­est­ing is his rise as an ad­min­is­tra­tor with an in­cor­rupt­ible, no-non­sense im­age. Com­plet­ing two-and-a-half years in of­fice, Adityanath spoke about his mis­sion and vi­sion for U.P. to Group Ed­i­to­rial Direc­tor Raj Chen­gappa, Se­nior Deputy Editor Uday Mahurkar, IN­DIA TO­DAY (Hindi) Editor An­shu­man Ti­wari, and As­sis­tant Editor Ashish Misra at his Luc­know res­i­dence. Ex­cerpts:

Q.Be­fore com­ing to power in Ut­tar Pradesh, the BJP swore by the slo­gan ‘Na bhrash­tachar, na goonda

raj (Nei­ther cor­rup­tion nor rule of goons)’. Has the Yogi Adityanath gov­ern­ment lived up to this call? A. One needs to see our gov­ern­ment’s achieve­ments in the light of what we in­her­ited from the Akhilesh [Ya­dav] regime. We in­her­ited anar­chy, chaos, cor­rup­tion and a cul­ture of mur­der and loot. The public’s trust stood shat­tered. The courts had put a stay on [var­i­ous gov­ern­ment] re­cruit­ments. There was cor­rup­tion in re­cruit­ments and trans­fers and post­ings [of of­fi­cials]. Nepo­tism, casteism and com­mu­nal ri­ots had come to be the state’s iden­tity. Af­ter al­most two-and-a-half years of BJP rule, we can firmly say that un­der the guid­ance of our vi­sion­ary prime min­is­ter, we have changed this per­cep­tion of UP.

Q. What ef­fect has this ‘change of per­cep­tion’ brought about on the ground in the state?

A. Look at the way in­dus­trial in­vest­ment has grown. Our of­fi­cials wanted to hold a global in­vestors’ sum­mit with the aim of at­tract­ing in­vest­ment to the tune of

Rs 20,000 crore. But I felt a global sum­mit should bring in in­vest­ment as­sur­ances worth no less than Rs 2 lakh crore. We worked hard and, even­tu­ally, se­cured in­vest­ment promises worth Rs 5 lakh crore at the sum­mit. These pro­pos­als are fast turn­ing into re­al­ity—a ground­break­ing cer­e­mony for pro­pos­als worth Rs 1.25 lakh crore has al­ready been held. In­vest­ment worth an­other Rs 65,000 crore is in the pipe­line. Since we came to power, around Rs 2.5 lakh crore has been in­vested in UP. To­day, ev­ery in­dus­tri­al­ist at home and abroad wants to in­vest in UP. In­vestors be­lieve the state is free from the grip of bu­reau­cratic hur­dles and red tape. Our drive against cor­rup­tion and goonda raj pro­duced a bounty. In­dus­tri­al­ists feel UP is now a safe place for in­vest­ment. We brought about this change through the same ad­min­is­tra­tion and of­fi­cials.

Three ma­jor events de­fine the change we have ush­ered in—the Kumbh in Praya­graj, the Pravasi Bharatiya Di­vas in Varanasi and the peace­ful con­duct of the Lok Sabha elec­tion. Kumbh was in­deed the high point. With the PM’s guid­ance, the state ma­chin­ery worked as a team. The re­sult was that 240 mil­lion devo­tees at­tended the Kumbh. There were no ac­ci­dents, no stam­pedes. There was no filth. For the Pravasi Bharatiya Di­vas, we had es­ti­mated 3,000 par­tic­i­pants; some 7,000 at­tended. Ho­tels proved in­suf­fi­cient, so we cre­ated a tented city. Dur­ing the Lok Sabha elec­tion, voting was held at 163,000 booths in seven phases, with­out any un­to­ward in­ci­dent any­where. In sharp con­trast, voting in West Ben­gal, which has half the num­ber of booths in UP, was marred by re­peated vi­o­lence and deaths. These events prove that UP and its ma­chin­ery are on the right track and our gov­ern­ment has gained the trust of the com­moner. We have ful­filled the trust re­posed in us by Naren­dra Modiji and Amit Shahji. We feel sat­is­fied.

Q. Cen­tral gov­ern­ment data sug­gests the un­em­ploy­ment rate in UP has dou­bled in the past two years and stands at 16 per cent. Why would un­em­ploy­ment fig­ures go up when in­vest­ment is com­ing into the state?

A. These might be old fig­ures. New data points to UP emerg­ing as one of the states with the high­est ex­ports. Ex­ports have grown by 28 per cent in the past one year and our per­for­mance has been much bet­ter than of other states. We have pro­vided 225,000 jobs in the gov­ern­ment sec­tor and there have been no com­plaints about the re­cruit­ment process—this in a state that was no­to­ri­ous for cor­rup­tion and nepo­tism in gov­ern­ment jobs.

The way our tra­di­tional busi­nesses ex­panded their ex­ports, un­der the ‘One Dis­trict, One Prod­uct’ scheme, is a story in it­self. UP has clus­ters of tra­di­tional busi­ness in ev­ery dis­trict. We im­proved the map­ping, mar­ket­ing and brand­ing of our prod­ucts and in­creased ex­ports by about Rs 25,000 crore in just one year. To­day, our to­tal ex­ports are to the tune of Rs 1.14 lakh crore. We cre­ated 450,000 jobs. But our tar­get is to gen­er­ate 2.5 mil­lion jobs un­der the ‘One Dis­trict, One Prod­uct’ scheme.

I have in­ter­acted with the state’s brass in­dus­try—ex­ports from Mo­rad­abad alone have in­creased man­i­fold. What made this pos­si­ble was the 24-hour power sup­ply and a sense of se­cu­rity among traders due to the end of goonda raj. One trader came and con­grat­u­lated me, say­ing he has not en­coun­tered a sin­gle ex­tor­tion­ist in the past 18 months. I got sim­i­lar feed­back dur­ing my in­ter­ac­tions with the car­pet ex­porters of Bhadohi. The re­gion ac­counts for al­most half of the coun­try’s car­pet ex­ports worth Rs 8,000 crore.

UP has chalked out a pol­icy fo­cused on its dif­fer­ent sec­tors. We have 21 poli­cies for the var­i­ous sec­tors. Scores of youths are get­ting em­ployed through the UP Skill Devel­op­ment Mis­sion. We have al­ready gen­er­ated 140 mil­lion jobs un­der MNREGA, and our tar­get this year is 250 mil­lion jobs.

Q. How did you pre­pare your­self for the job of lead­ing a chal­leng­ing state like UP?

A. When I took over in March 2017, I had no ex­pe­ri­ence in gov­er­nance. My team, too, was mostly new. Re­cently, we re­struc­tured the cab­i­net based on per­for­mance and cer­tain norms. Now, we are do­ing bet­ter work as a


team. Af­ter as­sum­ing of­fice, I de­cided to take pre­sen­ta­tions from ev­ery depart­ment in or­der to un­der­stand the ground sit­u­a­tion in ev­ery sec­tor. This helped me gauge the mag­ni­tude of the chal­lenge, set tar­gets and de­vise tools to mea­sure per­for­mance. Min­is­ters, too, would hold meet­ings with their depart­ment of­fi­cials and watch the pre­sen­ta­tions. This de­tailed ap­proach has been one of the main rea­sons be­hind our suc­cess de­spite the ob­sta­cles. Now, we need to in­crease our pace and de­velop the abil­ity to not only lead but im­prove our de­ci­sion-mak­ing process.

With this pur­pose, I vis­ited IIM (In­dian In­sti­tute of Man­age­ment)-Luc­know (on Septem­ber 8) with my en­tire cab­i­net to at­tend the ‘Man­than’ lead­er­ship devel­op­ment pro­gramme. I wanted it to be a re­fresher course. Al­most ev­ery min­is­ter at­tended the event for nine hours, with full com­mit­ment, and took part in the dis­cus­sions. We learnt that the abil­ity to take de­ci­sions is very crit­i­cal to good gov­er­nance. We are hold­ing a sec­ond train­ing course at the IIM on Septem­ber 15. It will be fol­lowed by a third course and then a con­clud­ing ses­sion—all aimed at im­prov­ing gov­er­nance in or­der to re­alise the aim of mak­ing UP a $1 tril­lion econ­omy. Q. How do you rate your track record in core gov­er­nance? A. The agro sec­tor has been one of our big achieve­ments. To­day, UP tops in food­grain pro­duc­tion be­cause of the im­proved ir­ri­ga­tion fa­cil­i­ties, mod­ern agro tech­niques and ef­fec­tive pro­cure­ment pol­icy in­tro­duced by my gov­ern­ment. Other gov­ern­ments in the past 15 years never ran any mean­ing­ful agro or ir­ri­ga­tion pro­gramme, which led to farmer sui­cides. UP didn’t have any pro­cure­ment pol­icy. Take the ex­am­ple of the Bansagar ir­ri­ga­tion pro­ject. It was ap­proved in 1973 and the foun­da­tion stone was laid by the late PM Mo­rarji De­sai in 1978. When we came to power, it was still in­com­plete. We com­pleted the pro­ject within a year. It has brought over 150,000 hectares un­der ir­ri­ga­tion, and with the in­tro­duc­tion of drip ir­ri­ga­tion, its ir­ri­ga­tion po­ten­tial will in­crease to 400,000 hectares. About 170,000 farm­ers are di­rectly ben­e­fit­ting from the pro­ject. We are work­ing on some other ir­ri­ga­tion projects pend­ing for the past 50 years. They will be op­er­a­tional by the year-end, tak­ing our ad­di­tional ir­ri­ga­tion po­ten­tial to 1.4 mil­lion hectares.

An­other shock­ing ex­am­ple of poor gov­er­nance and mas­sive cor­rup­tion by previous gov­ern­ments is the state of sugar mills. Sugar mills in the state were shut­ting down and being sold at throw­away prices. When we came to power, pay­ments to sug­ar­cane farm­ers were due for the past five years. We drew up an ac­tion plan and ap­proached the own­ers and man­agers of all sugar mills. Thanks to our sin­cere ef­forts, we have al­ready paid Rs 73,000 crore to the farm­ers whereas the previous gov­ern­ment couldn’t pay even Rs 50,000 crore in five years. We are not only re­viv­ing sugar mills that shut down but also help­ing new ones come up. Two new sugar mills have come up and will start pro­duc­tion in this sea­son. The ex­pan­sion of the sugar mill at Chaud­hary Cha­ran Singh’s vil­lage (in Bagh­pat)—pend­ing for 30 years—has been ap­proved. We have also launched a pol­icy for en­cour­ag­ing pro­duc­tion of ethanol. The sug­ar­cane in­dus­try is on track now.


On the power front, gen­er­a­tion and con­sump­tion of elec­tric­ity has dou­bled since we came to power. Against the 3-4 hour sup­ply ear­lier, the dis­trict head­quar­ters now get al­most 24 hours of power. In the tehsil head­quar­ters, sup­ply has gone up to 18-20 hours and about 16-18 hours in the ru­ral belt.

Q. Your gov­ern­ment has big plans to de­velop ex­press­ways and air­ports and pro­vide cut­ting-edge con­nec­tiv­ity in the state.

A. For us, ex­press­ways are not a medium to ben­e­fit a par­tic­u­lar party. We have started three ex­press­way projects with the aim of mak­ing them the life­line of UP. The Pur­van­chal and Bun­delk­hand ex­press­ways are being con­structed to help de­velop the eco­nom­i­cally weaker re­gions by pro­vid­ing them con­nec­tiv­ity. Varanasi and Go­rakh­pur in Pur­van­chal have seen devel­op­ment, but ar­eas in the mid­dle re­main un­der­de­vel­oped. The first stretch of the Pur­van­chal ex­press­way, con­nect­ing Luc­know, Bara­banki, Rae­bareli, Ame­thi, Ay­o­d­hya, Ambed­kar Na­gar, Sultanpur, Aza­m­garh and Ghazipur, will usher in devel­op­ment. We are ex­tend­ing it to Bal­lia. Akhilesh Ya­dav laid the foun­da­tion stone for the Pur­van­chal ex­press­way in De­cem­ber 2016, but work did not start un­til May 2017. I learnt that they had al­lot­ted con­tracts worth Rs 15,800 crore with­out ac­quir­ing land for the pro­ject—some­thing unimag­in­able! We started land ac­qui­si­tion and by March 2018 were able to ac­quire around 96 per cent of the re­quired land. Dur­ing the bid­ding process, the con­tracts that the Akhilesh Ya­dav gov­ern­ment had given for Rs 15,800 crore went for less than Rs 12,000 crore. This shows the ex­tent of loot that had been go­ing on. The ex­press­way will open to gen­eral public in Au­gust 2020.

We are de­vel­op­ing in­dus­trial clus­ters along the ex­press­way and have also sanc­tioned a univer­sity near it in Aza­m­garh, all in keep­ing with our vi­sion that ex­press­ways should be the true path­ways of devel­op­ment. On the Bun­delk­hand ex­press­way, which will con­nect Agra to Chi­trakoot, we are plan­ning a de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ing cor­ri­dor. Then there’s the Meerut-Praya­graj Ganga ex­press­way. The three ex­press­ways will be­come the back­bone of UP’s econ­omy.

When we came to power, only a cou­ple of air­ports were func­tional. Now, apart from Luc­know, Varanasi and Go­rakh­pur, Praya­graj, Kan­pur and Agra air­ports are also op­er­a­tional. Work is in progress at 11 more air­ports. By Septem­ber, we will com­plete ac­qui­si­tion of 85 per cent of the land needed


for these projects. The Je­war air­port will be the coun­try’s big­gest, span­ning about 4,000 acres. Devel­op­ment of wa­ter­ways is also on our agenda.

Q. How do you see your jour­ney from being the of a prom­i­nent re­li­gious or­der to the chief min­is­ter of In­dia’s largest state?

A. When I be­came chief min­is­ter, I had no ex­pe­ri­ence or idea how gov­ern­ments func­tion. I was an MP and a yogi at the Go­rakhnath mutt. But we were lucky that the most vi­sion­ary per­son in the world was our leader. There is no plan­ner like our PM. He taught us to move for­ward with a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude. He taught us how to turn chal­lenges into op­por­tu­ni­ties. As a yogi, I had in­her­ited public val­ues and qual­i­ties such as de­vo­tion to duty. In this cul­ture, re­li­gion is linked to duty and public wel­fare. As a ma­hant, I ran sev­eral so­cial ser­vice projects. In that sense, I had some ex­pe­ri­ence of run­ning the ad­min­is­tra­tion with the right sense of duty. I had al­ready been MP for sev­eral terms. All this proved use­ful when I took over as chief min­is­ter. Q. The cow is a sen­si­tive is­sue not only in UP but across the coun­try. What has your gov­ern­ment done for the preser­va­tion of cows?

A. There are two is­sues here: the pro­tec­tion of cows and their preser­va­tion through the in­tro­duc­tion of im­proved and health­ier breeds. To pro­tect cows, we banned il­le­gal abat­toirs as soon as we came to power. I was aware that ban­ning the il­le­gal slaugh­ter­houses would raise ques­tions about [the man­age­ment of] the aban­doned an­i­mals. So we chalked out an elab­o­rate pol­icy. Gausha­las that had shut down were re­ac­ti­vated. A part of the 54,000 hectares freed from the land mafia in the state was used to build new cow shel­ters, us­ing the spe­cial cow cess levied on for­eign liquor. In­cen­tives were an­nounced for farm­ers will­ing to keep up to four un­pro­duc­tive cows. In­dian cow breeds, such as Ganga, Sahi­wal, Gir and Tharparkar, are being en­cour­aged through in­cen­tive-based poli­cies.

Q. Law and or­der has been one of your gov­ern­ment’s high pri­or­i­ties. Has the UP po­lice been given ad­di­tional pow­ers for the pur­pose? A. The po­lice used to be politi­cised. There was mas­sive cor­rup­tion and nepo­tism in po­lice re­cruit­ments, trans­fers and post­ings. Not just rules and reg­u­la­tions, our gov­ern­ment is us­ing tech­nol­ogy to curb cor­rup­tion in the po­lice. We have made the force more in­de­pen­dent. Main­tain­ing law and or­der with­out dis­crim­i­na­tion is their top pri­or­ity.

Q. Sa­ma­jwadi Party MP Azam Khan’s name has been put on the UP gov­ern­ment’s on­line list of land mafia. A. This (ac­tion against land mafia) is tak­ing place ev­ery­where. We be­lieve the land mafia has been one of the main rea­sons be­hind the sorry state of pol­i­tics and ad­min­is­tra­tion in UP. I have not lodged any FIR against any­one; it’s the rev­enue depart­ment and the dis­trict mag­is­trates who are tak­ing ac­tion. Ev­ery­thing will be done as per the law, be it [in] Rampur (Khan’s strong­hold) or Sonbhadra. In Sonbhadra, more than 100,000 bighas have been en­croached upon by Congress lead­ers by form­ing bo­gus agri­cul­tural so­ci­eties. We are go­ing to

take ma­jor ac­tion there.

Q. How is the out­break of Ja­panese en­cephali­tis being con­tained in the state?

A. We have suc­ceeded against en­cephali­tis due to team­work and the Swachh Bharat Ab­hiyan. I have been fight­ing this men­ace for 21 years now. As an MP, I have re­peat­edly raised the mat­ter in Par­lia­ment since 1998. As chief min­is­ter, I re­alised the so­lu­tion lay in vac­ci­na­tion, pro­mot­ing hy­giene and pro­vid­ing clean drink­ing wa­ter. In the past four decades, more than 50,000 chil­dren in 38 dis­tricts of east­ern UP have died of en­cephali­tis. The Swachh Bharat Mis­sion has played an im­por­tant role in re­duc­ing out­breaks in the state. We are run­ning four to five an­nual pro­grammes against wa­ter-borne dis­eases by suc­cess­fully co­or­di­nat­ing the ef­forts of the health and other de­part­ments.

Q. What is your ac­tion plan for Ay­o­d­hya?

A. Ay­o­d­hya is a holy site, so it is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of my gov­ern­ment to de­velop the city ac­cord­ingly. The Ram Jan­mab­hoomi is­sue is in the Supreme Court. We are hope­ful of a favourable verdict.

Q. Some an­a­lysts pre­dict that the BJP will rule at the Cen­tre for the next two decades, with Modi as PM, fol­lowed by Amit Shah and then Yogi Adityanath.

A. The BJP is go­ing to rule In­dia for the next 50 years. Modiji and Amit Shahji have of­fered a per­fect model of gov­er­nance that en­sures devel­op­ment, se­cu­rity and pros­per­ity of the peo­ple. In­dia is poised to scale great heights. As for me, I shall con­tinue to work as an or­di­nary worker of the BJP. ■


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