Two big surprises in Lucknow Last March. Few had expected the BJP and its allies to sweep the country’s largest and one of the most politically complex states with 325 of 403 seats before the assembly election results emerged. But another surprise about happened to Yogi Adityanath, the firebrand five-term Gorakhpur MP, as the new chief minister of the state.
This March saw another surprise. The seeming politically invincible BJP lost Gorakhpur and Phulpur Yogi and deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya’s seats. The comfortably settled in power in Delhi and Lucknow BJP was shocked.
The year of Yogi Raj in Uttar Pradesh was between the win and the loss. It is a term that has been marked by continuity and departure also by controversies and innovations.
Earlier when last year started with the BJP government in the state implementing two of its main campaign focuses to set up anti-Romeo squads to tackle harassment against women.
While most appreciated it, also turned into a tool for moral policing and harassment by local officials. They also cracked down on slaughterhouses on the foundation that illegal cow slaughter was taking place on an uncontrolled scale and there were health and environment issues at stake. But the government involvement hit livelihoods hard and disrupted a complex network of inter-dependence between farmers and allied occupations.
The credit for improving the power situation in the state, Goes to Yogi government; for improving roads; and for bringing a seriousness and focus to engage with industry.
Critics are however sceptical of the claims but all these its supporters hold, will have long-term benefits.
But the most controversial twin legacy of the Yogi government so far has been its record on law and order and caste. The government claims there has been a massive improvement; criminals are scared, and there is fear of the rule of law. This has happened because of a crackdown.
Critics have documented that the government has resorted to extrajudicial executions, ‘encounters’, targeting people randomly and illegally and creating an atmosphere of fear. The other issue Yogi has to contend with both politically and in terms of governance is caste.
The party is seeking Attention in the support of backward and Dalit communities; It was an earlier perception that the return of the BJP has meant the return of upper castes.