Yogi Adityanath's farm loan waiver is an answer to 'suit-boot sarkar' charge against Narendra Modi govt

Yogi Adityanath took a fortnight to hold his first cabinet meeting but the nine decisions that he took on Ram Navami suggest that he did his homework and prioritised his agenda.

Though he had the advantage of having the party's sankalp patra (letter of resolve or manifesto) to begin his work and not waste time in formulating an agenda for governance, his first cabinet meeting as chief minister generated an unusual hype that has not been witnessed in the recent past with respect to any other government. More than anybody else, the new chief minister was acutely aware of the heightened public curiosity and consequent close scrutiny of his first collective structured action.

By the time two spokespersons of the UP government, Sidharth Nath Singh and Srikant Sharma, concluded listing the cabinet decisions on Tuesday evening, it was clear that the Yogi Adityanath government had made its mark and placed itself on the right side of public perception, if not economic scrutiny.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Aditya Nath Yogi. PTI

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Aditya Nath Yogi. PTI

Farmer loan waiver was a big pre-poll promise made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. Modi made the populist promise that in the very first cabinet meeting, loans of small and marginal farmers taken for agricultural purposes would be written off. Adityanath was not a chief ministerial candidate then.

It was a promise made by his party and two of his seniors, and thus had to be fulfilled but what kept the speculations and debate going was the quantum of relief that the farmers will get — whether the state government would write off loans taken from public sector banks and allied institutions or would it write off loans taken only from state co-operative and rural banks. Rs 36,359 crore farm loan waiver for 2.15 crore small and marginal farmers with a landholding of less than five acres and another seven lakh farmers loans turned into non-performing assets (NPAs) clearly suggested that PSU banks and allied institutions have been covered.

Economists, financial experts and some political leaders would continue to deliberate on how this populist measure would set a chain reaction for similar bonanza in other states and how this imprudent measure would deplete the state exchequer, however, Modi, Adityanath and the BJP has succeeded in sending a small political message that it is genuinely concerned about improving conditions in the farm sector and that of farmers. That's where the BJP could break caste and community barrier. The move could turn out to be politically beneficial for the ruling party.

Farmers constitute the biggest social segment, around 12 crore cultivators constitute 25 percent of total workforce in the country. Farm sector has become less remunerative and work force in this sector has been on the decline for years.

The decision of setting up of 5,000 wheat procurement centres in the state was equally important. With an ambitious procurement target of 80 lakh metric tonnes of wheat produce against the existing 5-7 lakh metric tonnes and provision for elimination of middlemen, minimising scope of corruption by ensuring payments are directly credited to the bank accounts of the farmers — this will go a long way in improving the economic health of those engaged in agriculture.

Over the last two years, Modi has been consciously and consistently working towards projecting his government as pro-poor. The critics and political rivals of Modi would now be mindful of their "suit-boot sarkar" charge. The popular verdict and decisions taken at the first cabinet meet of Adityanath's UP government, which is in alignment with the Centre, is a reminder that the ruling BJP is pursuing a different, small is big path.

The decision to build a massive well-equipped sports complex in underdeveloped Ghazipur (parliamentary constituency of communication minister Manoj Sinha who couldn't be the chief minister) in eastern UP is also interesting. It will help in grooming sporting talents and channelise the energy of the youth of the region.

Adityanath government's reiteration that only illegal slaughterhouses, 26 in the state, would be closed should sound positive to both consumers and producers of meat products.

Both the pre-poll promises of the BJP — the anti-Romeo squads and closure of illegal slaughterhouses — initially got a knee-jerk reaction from the police and officials of the other law enforcing agencies. The state action, though ill-conceived and over enthusiastic in many respects, on both the issues, signified a change in regime and the outlook of the state machinery.

A whole new generation of highly politicised staff and officials have come up in the last 15 years. With the kind of mandate the BJP got and Adityanath's surprising elevation to the post of chief minister, they went on an overdrive to appear to be on the right side of tje new ruling dispensation.

Adityanath has given a new policy shift to politics in the state and also in the party.

Updated Date: Apr 05, 2017 16:59 PM

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