English News

  • youtube
  • facebook
  • twitter

Yogi Adityanath — can he emulate Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew?

The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adiyanath Yogi’s methods may have been unconventional, but the results have been striking

By Prakash Singh

“The achievement somehow seems to dwarf the critique.” This is how Tom Plate, an American journalist who interviewed Lee Kuan Yew in 2009, assessed Lee who transformed Singapore from a pirate haven to an enviable city-state, known for an efficient bureaucracy, an almost corruption-free government, clean air, safe streets, excellent schools, affordable healthcare, and the third highest per capita income in the world.

Yogi Adityanath’s achievements in UP during his tenure as Chief Minister of the state promise to be no less transformative, despite challenges that are arguably much greater that what Lee encountered in Singapore—a much smaller city-state.

Yogi’s methods may have been unconventional, but the results have been striking. Not that UP has achieved Singapore’s prosperity, but it has definitely turned a new leaf and is witnessing development on a scale and at a speed it had never seen before. Areas which had been neglected by successive governments – Eastern UP and Bundelkhand – are pulsating with economic activity and pro-active energy.

For his performance, Yogi Adityanath was rated as the best Chief Minister in the India Today ‘Mood of the Nation’ for the fourth consecutive time in a poll conducted in early 2021. Yogi’s achievements on the law-and-order front have been most remarkable. At no time in the history of UP did the mafia feel so much heat and pressure of the government as it has painfully experienced during the present administration.

Yogi has gone hammer and tongs against the criminal elements, so much so that some of them have begged for mercy. It is estimated that since 2017, a total of 155 criminals were killed in 8,935 encounters with the police while 3,542 suffered injuries. (It works out to one killed every 57 encounters). Thirteen policemen also lost their lives in these engagements, while 1,212 policemen sustained injuries.

The police have been criticized for false encounters, though an American’s comment was that UP policemen must be very poor shooters. Besides, a total of 13,801 cases were registered under the Gangsters Act, in which 43,294 accused were arrested. Their property, moveable and immoveable, worth 1,848 crore was seized or destroyed. This had a very salutary effect on the crime situation and has given a sense of security to the common man.

It has to be remembered, in this context, that the state was governed by either the Samajwadi Party or the Bahujan Samaj Party from 2002-2017. During these 15 years, criminals belonging to or supported by the ruling party had a field day. Notorious mafia leaders prospered and extended their networks across districts in different lucrative fields.

The administrative apparatus became almost dysfunctional. Police carried out the diktat of the party in power, right or wrong, legal or unlawful. One Chief Minister gave the atrocious order that crime should be reduced by seventy percent. The result was complainants were shooed away from the police stations. Surprisingly, the human rights lobbies never protested. This was the legacy which Yogi Adityanath inherited. It was quite a tough task bringing the administration back on rails in a state with the population of 23 crores dispersed over 75 districts. Yogi however rose to the occasion. He had no administrative experience, and yet within a short period he earned his spurs.

A significant breakthrough by Yogi Adityanath was the introduction of police Commissionerate system in Uttar Pradesh. It may be recalled that as far back as 1978, the then Chief Minister of UP announced that there would be Commissionerate system of policing in Kanpur. Vasudev Panjani was chosen to be the first Commissioner of Police, Kanpur. He, along with the then Home Secretary, K.K. Bakshi, was sent to Mumbai, Pune, and Chennai to study the system. However, by the time they came back, bureaucracy had shot down the proposal. It remained buried for more than 40 years until Yogi Adityanath resurrected it and Commissioners of Police were appointed in Lucknow and Noida in January 2020. Subsequently, the system was extended to Kanpur and Varanasi in March 2021.

Progressive steps have been taken in other areas also to improve policing in the state. Mission Shakti was launched in October 2020 to help women, particularly from the rural areas. Awareness programs were conducted in villages and women were informed about the helpline numbers which they could contact. Substantial grants were released for the construction of residential and office buildings for police stations. Forensic laboratories have been established in every Range. Cybercrime police stations have been set up at all Range headquarters.

The organization of Prayagraj Kumbh in 2019 was a phenomenal success. Twenty-four crore people (equal to the population of six European countries, namely, UK, France, Holland, Belgium, Portugal and Italy) had a dip in the holy river during the period.                         

There is however a flip side also. The state has been a laggard in implementing the Supreme Court’s directions on police reforms. It has not constituted Police Complaints Authorities, as mandated by the Apex Court. Corruption at the cutting-edge level continues as before. The grievance redressal system is not effective. Response to a serious situation is at times delayed and indifferent. No wonder, the state government was in eye of the storm in Hathras, Unnao, and Kheri. The stringent NSA and the UAPA could have been used sparingly. However, the fact remains that Yogi Adityanath is dedicated to improving the lot of the common man in the entire state of UP. In the process, he has given adequate autonomy to the bureaucracy and the police. The tragedy for the arguably most incorruptible Chief Minister in the country today, is that some officers holding important positions let him down from time to time.

Plato is credited with the remark that the “states will never be happy until rulers become philosophers or philosophers become rulers”. Can Yogi Adityanath, rise to Platonic heights, unscathed by the relentless negative media campaigns that are being mounted against him, both within the country, and abroad.

Also Read: Roads to Success–Purvanchal Expressway pioneers Uttar Pradesh’s transformation

Also Read: PM Modi launches Purvanchal Expressway amid IAF planes demonstrating landing & take-off drills

(Prakash Singh is a former Director General of UP. Views expressed are personal)