Will governing UP be as comfortable as winning it? Key challenges the incoming BJP govt faces in Uttar Pradesh
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may have conquered Uttar Pradesh with two-thirds majority, but the challenges that will fall in its path of governance will indeed make things difficult for its leaders to deliver.
Irrespective of who assumes charge of the state as Chief Minister, from restoring law and order to bringing the state’s economy back on track, the road is full of challenges that will keep the government on its toes for sometime.
The BJP secured 40 per cent of the votes polled, which only signifies the heightened expectations of the people from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah who campaigned tirelessly across the state highlighting the corruption and rise of ‘goondaraj’ (misrule) under the Akhilesh Yadav government in the last five years.
The duo had also promised to bring a system that will not discriminate on the basis of religion and belief and work for all sections of the society equally to ensure they get what the rightly deserve.
Overcoming the challenges in implementing their agenda in the state, where agriculture is the primary occupation of a majority of the population, will be interesting to see. All eyes will be on the extent to which they manage to fulfil the promises they made during rallies. Besides, promoting both development and digitalisation together will be another difficult job that will need a close eye of both the PM and the BJP chief.
Here, we take a look at the challenges the incoming BJP government faces in the state.
Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in the country with a population of 20 crore (Hindus 79.73 per cent and Muslims 19.31 per cent), as per the 2011 Census. The state’s GDP has remained almost unchanged over the decade. In 2014-15, the growth rate was just 6 per cent against the country’s 7.5 per cent.
The state has also the highest debt to GDP ratios. According to budget estimates of 2015, the state has a debt-to-GDP ratio of 30.1 per cent, much higher than the national average of 21 per cent.
Reducing the debt before rolling out new schemes and subsequently allocating funds for the promises made during the rallies will probably be among the toughest job for the government.
Law and order situation
This is something which will need the new government’s highest attention. From accusing outgoing CM Akhilesh Yadav of converting police stations into the Samajwadi Party offices to police inaction, from delay in action in cases such as the violence in Mathura to the Kairana issue and Dadri lynching and of course the most recent ‘purposeful’ delay in the arrest of gang-rape accused SP leader Gayatri Prajapati, the continuous deterioration in law and order remained the mainstay of the BJP’s campaign.
Also, the rising incidents of crime against women was picked up widely by the BJP. Throughout the campaign, BJP leaders were seen targeting the SP over this issue. Amit Shah, at an election rally, even accused Akhilesh of transforming Uttar Pradesh into the ‘number one state’ in terms of murder, loot and crime against women. The Prime Minister too blasted Akhilesh saying ‘women don’t venture out after sunset or go to school because they are afraid of molesters and eve teasers under SP rule’.
In UP, where women form nearly 46 per cent of the total electorate of 13.8 crore, this was bound to become a big issue. According to NCRB data, between 2012 and 2015, the state reported a total of 1,30,109 (23,569 in 2012 | 32,546 in 2013 | 38,467 in 2014 and 35,527 in 2015) cases of crime against women.
Uttar Pradesh, with a total area of 243,290 sq km, is the fourth largest state. This piece of land in the northern part of India is most important as far as horticulture is concerned. However, the condition of farmers in the state is very alarming. During its rallies, the BJP was seen claiming that the condition of farmers have improved because of the pro-farmer policies of the government. The Prime Minister and other leaders repeatedly slammed Akhilesh Yadav for not implementing the Prime Minister’s ambitious ‘Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana’. According to the PM, every state welcomed Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana but in UP, only 14 per cent were covered.
The PM had even announced to waive off farmers’ loans on the very first day of the government. However, this declaration invited criticism from opposition parties including BJP’s key ally Shiv Sena for maintaining status quo on the matter in states where it is in power. It will be interesting to see how the new government manages to bear the load if it announces a full waiver of farmers’ unpaid dues.
Another thing that will be eagerly watched is a decision on the revival of the sugar industry in the state. Sugarcane is the most important cash crop throughout the state. Sugar mills owe thousands of crore to farmers and the indecision on part of the government only worsened the situation in the last few years. Banks are now unwilling to lend to the sector. Any decision regarding revival of closed plants and improvements in the capacity and the introduction of advanced techniques in he existing plants will surely contribute in writing a new growth story of the state.
Farmers have also been demanding the linkage of sugar and sugarcane prices, meaning higher the price of sugar in the market, higher the price should be at which mills buy sugarcane from farmers and vice-versa. Though states like Maharashtra and Karnataka adopted the formula successfully, UP has refused to implement this.
At a rally in Gonda, Prime Minister Modi had mentioned that welfare of sugarcane farmers was a top priority for the government at the Centre. The PM took note of the troubles that sugarcanes farmer in Uttar Pradesh were facing.
He had said that the Samajwadi Party government was not doing anything for the farmers.
Education, Employment and Health
There is no point in boasting about growth figures or people-friendly schemes if a government fails to provide quality education and generate employment opportunities for its people. All figures, all claims stand nowhere when people do not have good jobs. There is a serious problem on the employment front in Uttar Pradesh.
People are mobilising to other states in the absence of opportunities in the state and this will require the government’s immediate attention. Besides promising to waive off all loans to farmers’, the BJP had also assured the people of Uttar Pradesh of creating one lakh jobs for the youth. It is no secret that achieving this will require huge investments to set up industries in the state. The Prime Minister, BJP president and others were often seen charging Akhilesh of not utilising the central funds and shedding crocodile tears. How well the BJP government in the state is able to minimise this gap and ensure that people benefit from the funds sent for the welfare of the people will be something to watch out for.
As far as the present scenario of the health sector in the state is concerned, the area needs considerable development to meet the basic needs of people. The state desperately needs extensive infrastructural network along with the effective policies to meet the demand for health services.
These are some issues that are very complex in nature. In its manifesto, the BJP had reiterated its stand ‘to explore all possibilities within the Constitutional framework’ to facilitate construction of the Ram Temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya. However, the party is unable to make any progress on its promise as the issue is still pending before the Supreme Court. However, several BJP leaders have openly declared that if the BJP gets majority in the state, the temple would be a priority.
On triple talaq, the BJP has openly made it clear that it favours the abolition of this practice. In its manifesto, the party had promised to take the ‘opinion of all women’ on the matter before placing it before the Supreme Court.
This was another crucial issue that prominently figured during the rallies. The BJP leaders were heard charging Akhilesh Yadav of blocking the efforts by the Centre to clean the holy river. In the run up to the 2014 polls, Modi had declared that he will make sure that the pride of Ganga is restored. After victory, he had even made a separate department for the purpose but gaps in executing the plans remain a crucial issue. It will now be interesting to see how the BJP governments -- at the Centre and in the state -- manage to expedite efforts to make the river clean.