By Mohit Dubey
Lucknow: With three major states in the Hindi heartland slipping out of its hands, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is worried in Uttar Pradesh where even party insiders complain about poor governance and growing lawlessness.
“What if this repeats here too?” is a question that is haunting many in the BJP. For a party that stormed to power after 16 years of political exile, the stunning 2017 Assembly victory is beginning to look like history.
Barely a year-and-a-half later, the popularity ratings of the state government, specially Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, are worryingly down.
Many of his decisions, like renaming Faizabad to Ayodhya and Allahabad to Prayagraj and his use of acidic language, have soured his appeal, even among BJP supporters. BJP’s allies too are openly speaking against the way the state is run.
“There is a lot of corruption all round. Officials are not even listening to the Chief Minister’s directives,” said Om Prakash Rajbhar, who heads BJP ally Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) and is a cabinet Minister.
A perpetual rebel who has often broken ranks with the ruling party, Rajbhar’s disillusionment, unlike that of others, is out in the open.
There are, however, many senior Ministers in the ruling party who complain in private over what they feel is the poor and lacklustre performance of the BJP government.
“The government is directionless and has failed to inspire confidence,” says a party veteran who taunts the party leadership for not meeting the people’s aspirations.
“We are bogged down by a haughty bureaucracy which refuses to fall in line. As a result, our party workers and supporters are disgruntled,” he added.
A BJP General Secretary is accused by a Minister of trying to corner major tenders in irrigation and PWD departments. The Minister moaned that party leaders failed to understand the public mood.
Samajwadi Party spokesperson Abdul Hafiz Gandhi for once agrees with the BJP leaders’ assessment and points out that except for “hatred and rumour mongering”, the BJP government has failed to achieve anything in one-and-a-half years.
Lawlessness, he adds, continues in the state. And despite lofty claims and reckless police “encounters”, in which critics say many innocents have died, criminals continue to have a free run.
An Apple executive was shot dead by a policeman in cold blood. And now a police officer too was shot dead during mob violence in Bulandshahr. Many children have died in poorly-managed state-run hospitals.
“So what has changed?” asks a senior BJP leader, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Former Minister and Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (PSP) President Shivpal Yadav says the government was not only anti-farmer but was also fanning communal passions which he says was not in the interest of the state.
The BJP’s defeats in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh show that the time for the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “fast running out”, he added.
Another Minister, also not wishing to be named, told IANS that after initial bravado Adityanath had failed to control the bureaucracy and was dependent on a small coterie of officers.
He pointed out how while the previous Samajwadi Party regime made giant strides in infrastructure, the present one had not been able to deliver results.
“The 308-km Agra-Lucknow Expressway was built from scratch in 18 months flat. We have not been able to even start the Poorvanchal Expressway,” he rued.
The coming together of bitter rivals Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls is also sending the saffron camp into jitters.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at [email protected])