High octane electoral politics hallmark of 2017 in Uttar Pradesh

Subhashis Mittra
Tuesday, 19 December 2017

High-octane electoral politics eclipsed major developments during 2017 in Uttar Pradesh where the BJP was on a roll, coming to power with a bang and ending the year by winning the civic polls.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath passed his first test with flying colours as the BJP pocketed the civic polls, winning 14 of 16 mayoral seats.

However, the opposition Samajwadi Party said the picture was not that rosy for the saffron party. Of the 11,994 candidates it fielded for elections to municipal wards in the three-tier civic polls, 9,812 lost.

High-octane electoral politics eclipsed major developments during 2017 in Uttar Pradesh where the BJP was on a roll, coming to power with a bang and ending the year by winning the civic polls.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath passed his first test with flying colours as the BJP pocketed the civic polls, winning 14 of 16 mayoral seats.

However, the opposition Samajwadi Party said the picture was not that rosy for the saffron party. Of the 11,994 candidates it fielded for elections to municipal wards in the three-tier civic polls, 9,812 lost.

The year began with the erstwhile ruling SP grappling with the worst-ever feud in the Mulayam Singh Yadav clan, which led to his son Akhilesh Yadav being appointed the party’s new boss replacing his father. Though the bitterness cost the party dearly at the hustings, father and son patched up towards the end of 2017.

Besides the rough and tumble of politics, the year will be remembered as one that saw a series of train mishaps, an explosion in NTPC boiler in Raebareli claiming over 30 lives and stampedes at some religious places, including Ayodhya, exposing the chinks in the official machinery.

Hooch tragedies, including the one in Azamgarh in July in which around 20 people died after consuming spurious liquor, prompted the government to enact a law providing for death sentence to bootleggers.

The year began amid hectic electioneering in India’s most populous and politically crucial state in the run up to the assembly polls in February-March.

The SP and the Congress joined hands ahead of the polls, but both parties came a cropper and even Mayawati’s ‘elephant’ - the BSP symbol - could not withstand the saffron surge.

The results gave the BJP a landslide victory with 325 of the 403 assembly seats going to it and its allies.

After days of suspense over who would head the government, saffron-clad priest-turned-politician Yogi Adityanath, 44, donned the mantle of chief minister and marched ahead with a no-nonsense approach, though some of his tough decisions did not go down well with the masses.

In his initial days in power, Adityanath took drastic steps to improve the law and order and difficult decisions like the farm loan waiver.

He directed his ministers to remove red beacons from their cars, declaring that no politician should flaunt a ‘VIP status’. He also urged all ministers to disclose their assets to the chief
minister’s secretariat.

When his government completed six months in office in September, Adityanath released a detailed ‘white paper’ on the working of previous governments in the state and a status report on his own government’s policies and achievements.

Though he claimed to have fulfilled most campaign promises, the Opposition stepped up the attack on the ruling party, claiming that the misses outnumbered the hits.

The death of 65 children, allegedly due to lack of oxygen, in a state-run medical college in Adityanath’s native turf Gorakhpur dented his aura.

In his first state Cabinet meeting, Adityanath waived farm loans to the tune of Rs 36,000 crore.

Four days into office, the chief minister launched a crackdown on illegal slaughterhouses, triggering strong protests from meat traders. Besides unlicenced private slaughterhouses, many government-owned slaughterhouses closed down due to licence issues.

Adityanath installed the anti-Romeo squad with an aim to curb incidents of harassment and public attacks on women. But, with his government facing charges of moral policing, he ordered the squads to desist from harassing innocent citizens.

The government launched inquiries into projects cleared during the previous regimes of Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati. These included the Gomti River Front project, the Agra-Lucknow Expressway and construction of Lohia Path in Lucknow.

The state government, in collaboration with the Centre, signed the 24x7 ‘Power for All’ agreement to provide electricity to every household in the state by October 2018.

Moreover, fulfilling the promise made to sugarcane farmers, dues of 93 per cent of cane growers have been paid, according to figures provided by the BJP. Claiming that his government had removed ‘jungle raj’, Adityanath maintained that an atmosphere congenial to industrial development was created and invited entrepreneurs from abroad. He also said there had not been a single riot in the state during his regime.

An anti-land mafia force has been set up in the state to ensure that the the Jawahar Bagh kind of violence does not recur. Two policemen and 22 squatters were killed in clashes on June 2 last year at the Jawahar Bagh park in Mathura.

The state capital hosted international yoga day on June 21 and organised grand Diwali celebrations at Ayodhya, which once again shot to prominence after day-to-day hearing of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute.

Adityanath also paid a visit to the Taj Mahal amid controversial remarks by leaders from across the political spectrum.

Calamities like floods in eastern Uttar Pradesh and the drought like situation in Bundelkhand kept the authorities busy in mitigating the sufferings of those affected.

Uttar Pradesh, for the first time, gave the country its new president - Ram Nath Kovind - who had represented the state in the Rajya Sabha.

The state had the dubious distinction of witnessing major train
mishaps this year.

In August, 23 passengers were killed and 150 injured when the Utkal Kalinga Express derailed in Muzaffarnagar district. The same month saw the Kaifiyat Express jump derail in Auraiya district, injuring around 50 passengers.

The Patna-bound Vasco Da Gama Express train derailed near Manikpur railway station in Chitrakoot district in November, leaving three passengers dead and nine injured.

As part of the Swachcha Bharat Mission, the state declared four districts - Shamli, Hapur, Bijnore and Ghaziabad - open defecation free this year.

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