Firmly on the Top
The India Today Mood of the Nation (MOTN) poll in January 2020 adjudged Uttar Pradesh’s Yogi Adityanath as the best-performing chief minister for the second time in a row. What makes the feat all the more striking is that Adityanath is the only BJP face among the top seven chief ministers in the survey. With 18 per cent votes, 47-year-old Adityanath is way ahead of joint runners-up Arvind Kejriwal (Delhi) and Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal), who secured 11 per cent votes each. Bihar’s Nitish Kumar was a close third (10 per cent).
In the nearly three years that he has been chief minister, Adityanath has managed to project himself as a man of action, who follows a hard line on crime, is not afraid to take tough decisions and is someone who has a clean image. Under him, UP has been gradually establishing itself as an attractive investment destination. The 2020 edition of the DefExpo India exhibition will be held for the first time in Lucknow, from February 5 to 8. The event is expected to serve as a platform for new defence joint ventures.
While the UP Investors Summit organised in February 2018 attracted investments to the tune of Rs 4.7 lakh crore, another event was held last July to mark the launch of projects worth Rs 65,000 crore. Adityanath’s aim is to make UP a $1 trillion economy by 2024.
Last month, the Adityanath government began widespread police reforms, with a commissionerate system of policing for Lucknow and Gautam Buddha Nagar. In Lucknow, 40 police stations will be under the commissionerate, with an additional director general (ADG)-level officer as police commissioner and two joint police commissioners of inspector general (IG) rank. Two senior women officers will tackle crimes against women. In Gautam Buddha Nagar, the police commissioner will be assisted by two additional police commissioners of deputy inspector general (DIG) rank and seven superintendents of police.
UP was the biggest contributor to the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana in 2019, building, by one estimate, 430,000 homes. It also registered the highest tourist footfalls, with an estimated 240 million attending the Prayagraj Kumbh Mela alone. Some 300 projects, including highways, hospitals and sewage plants, worth Rs 30,000 crore, are underway in Varanasi.
With Delhi going to polls on February 8, runner-up Arvind Kejriwal’s rise in popularity comes at an opportune time. Kejriwal’s focus on governance-mohalla clinics, revamp of public schools and free power and water for the poor-has struck a chord with the people.
The feisty Mamata Banerjee has been the most trenchant critic of the Narendra Modi government over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens. Under her, industry is witnessing a revival in West Bengal. The 2019 Bengal Global Business Summit generated investment proposals worth Rs 2.84 lakh crore. The Mamata government has provided bank credit worth Rs 70,000 crore for small and medium scale units, generating over 100,000 jobs.
Nitish Kumar has been a consistent performer in MOTN surveys, even holding the number one rank among chief ministers. His political somersault from the UPA to the NDA in 2017 hurt his credentials. But Nitish has let his work speak. His government’s thrust on infrastructure, power, drinking water, irrigation, construction and social welfare has helped Bihar notch an average annual growth rate of 10.5 per cent for a decade.