We haven’t invoked the National Security Act in wrong cases, says Yogi Adityanath

‘If anyone has broken the law then the government has come down heavily on them, but the common man has seen action against lawbreakers,’ says the Uttar Pradesh CM

Updated - August 04, 2021 06:48 am IST

Published - August 03, 2021 02:10 pm IST

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityananth during an interaction with The Hindu.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityananth during an interaction with The Hindu.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath en route to completing five years at the helm of India’s most politically significant State speaks to Omar Rashid , Nistula Hebbar and Varghese K. George on his tenure and issues connected with it.

What would you say are the achievements of your tenure?

The challenges facing us were very clear and we tackled them one by one. Today, U.P. is among those States aspiring to reach high levels of development, otherwise one would only hear of riots, law and order problems, corruption, and the perception was such that no good person wanted to come here. There was no coordination between Centre and State over welfare programmes under previous governments especially after 2014. In 2014, the Swachch Bharat Mission was launched, in its first 2.5 years only 44 lakh toilets were built, in the next one and a half years we built 2.61 crore toilets. The result of this was that we found help to improve the conditions of the people, and in 38 janpads there was a dip in the incidence of encephalitis. Same is the case with the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana, in the last four years we have provided housing to 40 lakh people and money sent to people’s bank accounts, and appointing nodal officers to oversee construction. There were 1,24,000 villages in U.P. which didn’t have any electricity connections and we provided connections there.

You say that law and order was a good achievement but Opposition says that under your government encounters like that of Vikas Dubey have grown, with the BSP raising the Dubey death in its Brahmin sammelans. You are also accused of using the National Security Act indiscriminately and jailing journalists like Siddique Kappan .

First of all, let’s differentiate between all the things you have just said. State police have taken steps according to the law in order to establish order. The Deputy Superintendent of Police who died in Kanpur, was he not a Brahmin? The other policemen in that team in Kanpur who were killed, do they not have children who grieve for their fathers? Justice has to be equal for all and we cannot look at it in the prism of caste, community. The gaze of justice should be the same for all. When we are in government, we must be ready to do justice for the law abiding citizen. We haven’t invoked NSA (National Security Act) in wrong cases, and we have provided the basis for why we have invoked NSA in certain cases, both in the courts and in the advisory boards. In most cases these have been validated.

And you have made contentious laws like the one on Love Jihad , and attachment of property in case of damage to public property . There are legal challenges on these laws on the lines of violation of fundamental rights.

Every person has the right to go to court, I cannot stop them. The thinking behind these Acts, however, has been justified, that there should be rule of law and every citizen respects the law is important. This was the main thinking. In the name of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) when there was a conspiracy to riot in the State, we had to bring the ordinance on property damage and take action. It is nobody’s fundamental right to destroy public property. If they do so, then the State has the right to bring in a law to provide for restitution of that damage through claim over property.

But this is seen as a heavy-handed approach to law and order and to deal with protests.

Our work is to govern and provide welfare goods to everyone without any discrimination and to get everyone treated equally before the law. But yes, if anyone has broken the law then the government has come down heavily on them, but the common man has seen action against lawbreakers. Under the gangsters Act we have confiscated property up to ₹1,600 crores of big mafia members. This is necessary to rein in those who think they can break the law with impunity.

The world saw the spectre of floating corpses in the Ganga

There are some things that are attached to tradition which were there in the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) rule as well. Under the Hindu traditions there are three ways of performing piacular rites — one is ground burial, cremation or water burial. There is a particular time frame where ‘agni sanskar’ cannot take place so people go for water burials or burials on the banks of the Ganga. After the implementation of the ‘Namami Gangey’ programme, we had tried to stop these water burials, and tried to spread awareness. During the second wave, attempts were made to restart these burials in the sand and water and as we were alerted we stopped them. You must recall, in Balrampur district, someone associated with the SP or Congress, took the body of his relative who had passed away in Balrampur hospital and he threw the relative’s body from a bridge into the river. We filed an FIR, and arrested the man. These things have happened in the past, in 2011-12, within a certain time frame when cremations don’t take place.

During the second COVID-19 wave however, we witnessed the days when hospitals did not have beds and there was no oxygen available. And it is also being said that the records maintained by you did not show the excess deaths under COVID-19, especially in rural areas.

One should not exaggerate something unless they have authentic information. From day 1, I have been involved with the COVID-19 management. During the first wave, when there was a lockdown, questions were raised on the lockdown. During the lockdown, our youngsters were stranded in Kota, workers from U.P. were stranded across the country. We sent buses and took them home safely. Fingers were pointed at us, that we should not do this. And had we not done it, even then they would say ‘dekhiye sahab’, the social system is like this, you get fingers pointed at you if you do and even if you don't. Due to the timely steps taken by the Indian government, India delivered better results in comparison to other countries.

We need to consider that we are dealing with a pandemic of this century. This is not an ordinary flu. And whenever an epidemic comes, then all types of resources prove scarce. On a normal day, in a 500-bed hospital, the persons getting oxygen would be barely 10-12. Two-four people would be on ventilators. In the second wave, the virus infection spread rapidly. The infection was so sudden... and during that period a situation of panic was created, that those who did not require it even they ran to the hospital. In many places, people reserved beds for themselves in hospitals. They made their staff occupy the beds, while the needy did not get a bed. And during COVID not everyone can go inside a hospital. All this was seen then. Those people who created panic are no less responsible...

But your MLAs were among them (who wrote letters about shortage of oxygen and beds in their constituencies)...

When you create a panic situation among the public, and the public starts making noise, these people (MLAs) are under compulsion to speak in the same tone. They were just a few. Not more than two-three. You must remember, in a population of 24 crore, with 700 metric tonnes oxygen, we had brought the entire system under control. We made all attempts to prevent problems. Patients from one half of Delhi were in the hospitals here (U.P.). We still treated them. The oxygen of U.P. in GB Nagar and Ghaziabad was diverted to Delhi on direction of Delhi High Court. Even then we did not deny them. The Central government provided us oxygen from other places.

And about hiding the reporting (of deaths), that is absolutely wrong. U.P. has done four lakh tests per day. We have the maximum tests even today when COVID positivity rate is 0.015%. We are at the minimum stage. Even then we are conducting 2.5 lakh tests daily.

Thirdly, I conducted a survey and found that only 32% villages had some symptoms of COVID while the remaining 68% villages did not have any symptoms. Then people said many died. And you will be surprised that in U.P. with a population of 24 crore — even one death is tragic — there were 244 such children who lost both their parents from March 2020 to July 2021. This included children whose one parent died five-six years ago but the other one died during COVID-19. Some families had two-three kids.

Only 4,000 kids were orphaned in entire U.P. due to both COVID-19 and non-COVID deaths. U.P. had total deaths of 22,700. The data matches that, right? There is nothing to hide. There must have been a death somewhere? Someone's father or brother would have died. All this will come up. You cannot hide data of deaths. If you have conducted a test, you would also get a result. And the data is linked to the national portal. Nobody can fudge data in that. All those saying this don't have information about the ground reality.

There was belief that Noida is jinxed, that any Chief Minister who visited the district will lose the next poll, but you have visited multiple times. Don't you think it is risky?

It’s not a question of risk, I’m the Chief Minister of the whole State and it cannot be only attached to my personal ambition, so if Noida and Bijnore are considered a jinx, it cannot come in the way of my work. We won Lok Sabha after that and several other polls. I’m a man who believes in God, but not superstition or orthodoxy. I pray, visit temples, follow the traditions of my order, and I reject the idea of any heaven that may accrue due to following superstitions. I want to achieve rewards through my karma.

Were you offered a role in Delhi when you met PM Modi recently?

No I was not. We met over issues related to the State. I met him earlier too and frequently seek his advice on governance issues.

BSP is telling Brahmins that you are against the community…

Since when is the BSP a champion of Brahmin samaj? Their old slogans reflect their attitudes. Neither SP or BSP have the right to speak about social cohesion as they have advocated conflict between communities. They are trying to hunt for their lost social base which has come to the BJP.

You have a scheme under which legislators will propose temples (to be beautified and developed) in every constituency, where does that leave ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vishwas’?

It is not just temples. Under the Chief Minister Tourism Promotion Scheme, funds go to whichever religious site or tourist spot the legislator has proposed, be it of any religion. If an MLA has proposed a dargah, then funds would have gone even there. But because now even SP people are giving priority to mandirs instead of a dargah or a mosque, mostly temples have been proposed.

The farmer protest in West U.P., where the SP, the RLD and the Tikaits (of Bharatiya Kisan Union) are building an alliance on the ground. Will this dent your social formula?

The kind of work done by the Central government led by Modiji in the last seven years for farmers has not been done after Independence. Be it the PM Fasal Beema Yojana, PM Krishi Sinchayee Yojana or the real benefit of MSP, where farmers get 1.5 times of their cost, PM Modiji did this. Modiji gave PM Kisan Samman Nidhi to every farmer without discrimination. Before 2017, there was no procurement in U.P. It was started after 2017 by us.

It is dishonesty if government announces MSP but does not make procurement. From 2007-2017, sugarcane had received payment of only ₹95,000 crore. After our government came, in the last 4.5 years, we have made payments of ₹1.40 lakh crore. We are reviving defunct sugar mills. During COVID, all our sugarcane mills were functional. We started irrigation projects pending for years. If this kisan andolan was connected to the interest of farmers, then possibly they could have had the support. This is politically motivated. And any such politically motivated campaign will not receive support of people and annadata kisan.

Not even any community?

No one will support. The recent panchayat elections have proven that. Barring Baghpat, the BJP won all seats in west U.P.

But the Opposition accused you of misusing the government machinery.

If we had misused, then in Etawah, the MP and MLA are ours, but the zilla panchayat head was made from SP. In Ballia, too, where we have five MLAs and two Ministers, we could not get our zilla panchayat chairperson post. If there was a misuse it would be here, no? When we win, they say it is due to ill acts. And when they win it is their heroism and achievements? How can this work?

The U.P. State Law Commission has proposed a draft bill for population control recommending a two-child policy. Will you take a step on it when it comes to you?

There will be. But right now it is in the public domain for public comment. The population policy and Act are different things.

Religion has an important role in your politics and personal life. Till the last moment you pleaded in the Supreme Court that the Kanwar Yatra should be held.

We never said it should be held. Till the last moment we said in the Supreme Court that we are against stopping it forcefully. Even before the SC took suo motu cognisance of it, I had held a videoconference with all Districts Magistrates and SPs to talk to Kanwar Sanghs and get a proposal from them that if they cancel their Kanwar Yatras it would be better. Last year, the Kanwar Sanghs on my proposal had even cancelled the yatra. We didn't stop anyone. Even today we didn't put any ban. But Kanwar Sanghs wrote to us and that's what we produced in SC that what we want to say is that this is not an issue of the government but a matter of faith. Let society decide instead of a duel or tension after preparing it.

Your personality prioritises dharm (religion) or politics?

The first part of my personality is dharm. Dharm for me is not worship and rituals but also a duty, which inspires me to work in the the interest of the country and society. I consider ‘puja paddhatti’ a matter of personal faith. You don't have the right to interfere in my faith. And nor do I have the right to interfere in your personal faith. But my dharm makes me persistent towards my national duty.

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