The way Uttar Pradesh handled the second wave of COVID-19 and checked the spread of infection was unprecedented,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi on Thursday as he praised the efforts of the Yogi Adityanath-ruled State during the pandemic.
Coming months before the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls are scheduled, Mr. Modi’s positive appraisal of the Chief Minister’s work stood out in his address as he appeared to sound the bugle for the 2022 election.
“In tackling corona, Uttar Pradesh’s efforts are ullekhniya (remarkable),” the PM said, adding that the State, along with Varanasi, fought the changing and deadly forms of the virus with full force.
Mr. Modi said the people of U.P. had lived through a phase too where they “faced numerous problems in tackling diseases such as encephalitis and ‘brain fever’”.
Speaking at a public meeting at the grounds of the Banaras Hindu University after inaugurating and launching several projects in his constituency worth over ₹1,580 crore, the PM said that earlier, due to the lack of health facilities and lack of will power, even a small crisis would take huge proportions.
The PM thanked corona warriors, officials and others involved in tackling COVID-19 in Varanasi and said their efforts amounted to a “big seva ” or huge service.
Mr. Modi stressed that U.P. was today the State with the highest testing and vaccination in the country.
“Through this campaign ‘ sabko vaccine, muft vaccine’, the poor, middle class, farmers, youth are all getting administered free vaccines by the government,” he said.
He said that till four years ago, U.P. had only a dozen-odd medical colleges and that they had now increased four-fold. Steady work is also on to build 550 oxygen plants, he added.
Mr. Modi also lavished praise on Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for his hard work.
“It is not that before 2017, there were no schemes for U.P. or that funds were not sent. Even since 2014, swift efforts were made from Delhi. But hurdles would come up in Lucknow,” Mr. Modi said. “Today, Yogi- ji himself is working hard. The people of Kashi have seen how he regularly comes here. He reviews development schemes and invests his own energy to accelerate the development works. He [Yogi] strives like this for the entire State,” Mr. Modi said.
The PM also praised U.P. for its law and order situation under Mr. Adityanath and said the State where doing business was considered difficult had become a favourite place for “Make in India” due to Mr. Adityanath’s focus on infrastructure.
“There is rule of law in U.P. today. ‘Mafiaraj’ and terrorism, which were once out of control, now are under the grip of law. The criminals who raise an eye at women know that they cannot escape from the law,” he said.
Today, the government in U.P. is not working through corruption and “ bhai - bhatijavad ” (brother-nephew based) but through “ vikasvad ” (progress based), he further said in a veiled attack on political opponents.
Mr. Modi inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of various development projects, including a 100-bed maternal and child health wing in the Banaras Hindu University, multi-level parking, Ro-Ro vessels for river tourism on the Ganga, and a three-lane flyover bridge on the Varanasi-Ghazipur Highway.