Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, discusses his optimism for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Global Investors’ Summit, explains why it is bigger and more ambitious than the previous chapters, responds to inquiries about the use of bulldozers as a policy, the anti-conversion law, and his government’s madrasa survey, and claims that UP is on the path to change. Excerpts
The first year of your second tenure in office will be over next month. How different from your prior term has this last year been? What were your objectives, and what additional things do you intend to do over the following four years?
Adityanath: Over the past five years, we have transformed people’s perceptions about UP and have positioned it as a state that is leading the nation and the globe in terms of economic growth. I’m glad that every UP resident has eliminated the obstacles that prevented the state’s progress or their own realisation of their own identity. This will have a significant impact on how much UP’s economy grows to become the largest in the nation.
We have also given attention to infrastructure and law and order, provided a model of good government, and implemented reforms.
The land that has been created is being utilised to make UP’s 25 crore residents happier, generate thousands of new employment, and promote UP as a desirable investment location.
The Global Investors’ Summit-2023 (to be held February 10–12) is being massively prepared for by your government. Both domestically and overseas, road shows were held. Are there any plans for beyond the meeting, and what are your hopes for it?
Adityanath: At the prior summit, we had established the objective of making investments equivalent to the state budget for the year. This time, our objective is to attract investments that are more than the state GDP. We’re positive we can do this.
Which industry generated the most investor interest during the road shows?
Adityanath: Opportunities abound in UP. We’ve selected 25 industries where these possibilities might be put into practise locally to generate jobs in the towns and districts. In this regard, policies have been created. Significant changes have been made to make conducting business easier…
We have made use of technology to offer online platforms like the Nivesh Mirta site, the biggest platform of its kind in the nation, and we’ll keep an eye on every Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that is signed. Online reward information will be made available through an Incentive Monitoring System (IMS).
The fact that every major investor and industrialist in the globe and every nation wants to invest now, when none wanted to come (for investment) six years ago in the same UP, makes me glad. For the first time, teams from UP travelled to other countries to attract investment.
We will now be working in fields other than IT and ITMS (Information Technologies Management System), such as biofuel, renewable energy, electric vehicles, food processing, and new age technology. Each of the 25 industries, including those in education, medicine, and health, has attracted investors’ attention.
What efforts has the government taken to guarantee that the projects envisioned in the MoUs are actually implemented?
Adityanath: We have historical experience. In February 2018, when we hosted an investors’ summit, MoUs worth Rs. 4.68 lakh crore were inked. Around Rs 4 lakh crore worth of investments were carried out successfully by us. Undoubtedly, Covid-19 was a hurdle. Tasks have to be carried out digitally. Nevertheless, three impressive ground-breaking events were planned. includes for a data centre, a factory for Samsung display products, PepsiCo’s largest food processing facility, and a subsidiary of Unilever. Similar investments are being carried out all around the state.
Have district-organized investor conferences gotten any feedback or produced any proposals?
Adityanath: For the first time, investments would be made throughout all 75 districts rather than only in Lucknow and the National Capital Region.
Does this apply to the underdeveloped areas of Eastern UP and the Bundelkhand region?
Adityanath: Investment will be seen in each of the state’s 75 districts.
In order to establish a feeling of the rule of law among the populace, your administration deployed bulldozers to demolish unlawful buildings owned by the mafia. However, these are being employed even against persons who are charged with minor or other offences. Does the government object to the usage of bulldozers in this way?
Adityanath: Every step that was taken in UP was carried out strictly in accordance with the law. Any subsequent actions will also follow the law. Nobody will be able to circumvent the law.
During your campaign rallies in the UP and other states, bulldozers have recently appeared. Do you enjoy being called “bulldozer baba”?
Adityanath: I am a yogi, I lead a yogic lifestyle, and I will continue to live a yogic lifestyle in the future.
A recent survey of madrasas was done by the UP government. What spurred this, and what were the main survey results? What are the intentions for the 8,449 or so madrasas that have been discovered operating without the state madrasa education board’s approval?
Adityanath: Our educational institutions were designed to assist kids become capable citizens and attain economic independence, therefore we had to figure out what was required to modernise education in madrasas. Religious education is acceptable for religious rituals, but they must also consider how much it contributes to their quality of life, means of subsistence, and employment.
The government wants science, math, and other contemporary disciplines taught so that we may give (the pupils) a wide range of opportunities for development.Additionally, there are standards that you must follow if you are running an institution. How else will you become well-known? Those who do not have recognition are still eligible to apply as long as they meet the standards, which include infrastructure, faculty, and competent teachers.
Does the government also look into where some of the madrasas get their financing from?
Adityanath: The state will not tolerate any form of chaos or a propensity for security breaches.
During a rally for the UP Assembly elections in 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged a new approach to dealing with stray cattle. There doesn’t appear to be any progress on that a year later.?
Adityanath: The pashupalak (cattle-rearing people) and those involved in agriculture are the true owners of the cattle, not the government. People oppose if the government removes these livestock forcibly… Nevertheless, we have launched three plans. One is constructing cowsheds (nirashtrit go-ashray sthal) for stray cattle in each district, where the administration looks after the animals.
These cowsheds currently house almost 10 lakh cows. Four cattle heads from each of these cowsheds are given to a farmer as part of another programme called the Sahbhagita Yojana.
For the upkeep of the livestock, the government pays them Rs 900 each month. This programme has almost a lakh cattle heads with farmers. We examine the creatures physically as well. A milch cow from the cowshed and Rs 900 per month are donated to a malnourished family under the third programme. Families with food insecurity have had access to more than 15,000 cows. These strategies are effective and functional.
Additionally, we advocate for natural farming, which solely utilises Indian cattle. Currently, natural farming is practised over an area larger than 100,000 hectares. Additionally, a trial effort to enhance the breed of cattle so that they produce more milk has begun.
The BJP further pledged to quadruple farmers’ incomes by 2022. What development has UP achieved in that regard?
Adityanath: Sugarcane farmers have received payments totaling Rs. 1.95 lakh crore over the last six years. We made sure that farmers had no problems by ensuring that sugar mills remained operating throughout Covid.
There are two to three groups (sugar mills) that each have their own difficulties paying for sugarcane. We keep putting pressure on them to do it. Other sugar mills have previously paid their debts in full and are already paying within ten days of the start of the new crushing season. UP is home to at least 100 of the 120 sugar mills.
We also have additional programmes for farmers, such as the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi and ethanol production.
Two years ago, UP put out an anti-conversion bill. Marriage is a factor in the majority of cases under it, yet the conviction rate is still relatively low. Would you feel that the law has been successful in preventing so-called “love jihad”?
Adityanath: The legal system is effective. In certain instances, sentences have also been spoken aloud. Making laws alone is insufficient; society must also be made aware of the issue. To stop love jihad and other forms of religious conversion, the government and society should unite. It is never in the best interests of a civilised society.
However, it appears that no government has any such awareness initiatives.
Adityanath: Making laws is the government’s responsibility, but society as a whole needs to step forward.
The state’s exports, according to the administration, have increased during the last five years. What goods are in most demand? And how did your government succeed in doing so?
Adityanath: This is the outcome of our “One District, One Product” (ODOP) policies, which include the support of traditional businesses, their connection to modern technology, marketing, branding, and export promotion. Brass exports from Moradabad were just above Rs 2,000 crore in the past. Currently, brass products with a value of up to Rs 15,000 crore are exported.
Lack of market and technology led to the collapse of the carpet business in Bhadohi. There are currently around 7,000 crores of rupees worth of exports coming from there. The glass business of Firozabad, the hardware market of Aligarh, the crockery commerce of Khurja, the Chikan works of Lucknow, the silk saris of Varanasi, the sports goods of Meerut, and the fragrances of Kannuaj have all witnessed the same improvement.
An expert group has been established by neighbouring Uttarakhand to apply the Uniform Civil Code (UCC). Do you know of any plans for UCC in UP?
UP’s Law Commission is already working on it, according to Adityanath.
You recently referred to the Ayodhya Ram temple as a “national temple” in Jalore, Rajasthan, and suggested starting a campaign to clean up religious sites that had been vandalised in the past. Does UP have any similar campaign planned?
Adityanath: I stated that Sanatan Dharma is the nation’s “rashtriya (national) dharma.” This is the reality… I argued that slavery should be eliminated in its entirety. Any wealthy nation should not embrace those emblems since they are obstacles to its independence and development. They ought to be proud of their history, which is pauranik, spiritual, and religious in India (mythological). Additionally, we must be grateful to the noble people who gave their lives in the struggle for freedom.
You have a reputation as a fiery pro-Hindutva leader and are a mahant. Do you, as CM, think it was difficult to keep the balance between the many religions and sections?
Adityanath: As a yogi and as the state’s chief executive, it is my responsibility to engage in conversation with everyone. I have a moral obligation to talk to them and respect the beliefs of all castes, sects, and religions. Without hesitation, I have had conversations with everyone. It has produced fruitful outcomes. The most calm state now is Uttar Pradesh, which had rioting and instability six years ago but is now moving forward with a development-focused mindset.
Hindutva advocates bringing people together. My kind of Hindutva is neither rigid nor supple. That is Hindutva. There is no caste, creed, or religious discrimination. It incorporates the tenet of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which encourages people to view the world as one big family. As a result, we provide everyone the advantages of the plans. However, we also don’t spare anyone who decides to enforce the law on their own.
Do you believe that this mahant has been acknowledged as CM by all social groups?
Adityanath: The findings of the survey support this. The votes that the people of Uttar Pradesh cast in the elections for Lok Sabha in 2014, the Assembly in 2017, the Lower House in 2019 and the Assembly in 2022… demonstrate that constructive approach.
In the 2022 Assembly elections, people seem to have supported the BJP on a number of issues, including law and order. What do you consider to be your main strategies for enhancing law and order in UP? What further has to be done, then?
Adityanath: The finest law and order in the country is in Uttar Pradesh… The state’s identity issue is over… People are aware of the double engine government’s achievements.
BJP leaders criticised the late Mulayam Singh Yadav for ordering the shooting of kar sevaks in Ayodhya while he was the chief minister for thirty years. But the Modi administration has now awarded him the Padma Vibhushan. What justifies this change of attitude, as well as his son Akhilesh Yadav’s lack of comment on the subject?
Adityanath: The Central government showed badappan (large-heartedness) by honouring Mulayam Singh Yadav for his dedication to public service without harbouring any bias. The Samajwadi Party (SP) should be kind and congratulate the Prime Minister and the administration. However, the SP cannot be counted on to do this. How can they appreciate Netaji receiving this honour when they themselves did not show him respect when he was alive? This query ought to be posed to them.
Once more, opposition parties are looking at new fronts and coalitions to fight the BJP. How do you envision this developing before the Lok Sabha elections in 2024?
Adityanath: The BJP, led by Prime Minister Modi, will once more establish the government with a sizable majority, regardless of whether they form any bandhans or gathbandhans. In comparison to 2019, the BJP will fare much better.
You formed the Hindu Yuva Vahini, and you were in charge of its efforts on Hindutva concerns. The Vahini has stopped speaking since you were elected CM. Does it still exist?
Adityanath: I don’t believe there is a need for anyone when the government is working on the programme (that they promoted) and their job is done.