Lucknow, Dec 29: (UNI) The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party started the year in Uttar Pradesh with a bang by wooing, in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other dignitaries, investments exceeding its annual state budget.
But as the year went by the aura of the Yogi Adityanath government faded, first with the loss in bypolls and later demoralisation set in with the BJP defeats in the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
On the political front, there was undeclared unity among the opposition in the by-elections to three Lok Sabha and one assembly constituency.
The BJP had to bite the dust in all the seats.
Opposition wrested the Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Kairana Lok Sabha seats from the BJP. It also snatched the Noorpur assembly seat which fell vacant due to the death of a sitting BJP member Lokendra Singh.
Gorakhpur LS seat was held by chief minister Yogi Adiyanath, Phulpur by his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya and Kairana fell vacant due to the death of sitting BJP member Hukum Singh. The Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats were wrested by Samajwadi Party and Kairana by the Rashtriya Lok Dal. SP annexed the Noorpur seat too.
Bahujan Samaj Party faced embarrassment when its candidates lost the biennial Rajya Sabha polls against the BJP nominees.
The Yogi government tried to mix religion with politics.
Amid protests by the opposition, it changed the name of Allahabad to Prayagraj and Faizabad district to Ayodhya. Holding of elaborate Deepavali festivities at Ayodhya and visit of South Korean first lady Kim jung-Sook on the occasion was a grand event of the state. Besides, a Guinness world record was created for lighting over 3 lakh earthen lamps on the ghats of Saryu river.
The government also announced that a 151 meter high statue of Lord Ram would be set up on the banks of river Saryu in Ayodhya. A statue of late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee would come up at the Lok Bhawan in Lucknow.
UP witnessed emergence of new political forces in the state.
Shivpal Singh Yadav, estranged uncle of Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, floated a new political outfit Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party Lohia, with an aim to contest all the Lok Sabha seats and challenge the SP.
Controversial five-term Independent MLA and former UP Minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh ‘Raja Bhaiyya’ too, proclaimed a new political party ‘Jansatta Dal’ and held its first public rally on November 30 this year.
Throughout the year, the ruling BJP had to face bickering within the party as well as squabbles with its alliance partners. BJP MP Savitri Bai Phule, Dalit Lok Sabha member from Bahraich, resigned from the primary membership of the party in the first week of December.
The two alliance partners of the BJP—Suheldeo Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) led by state cabinet minister Om Prakash Rajbar and Apna Dal( Sonelal) leader Union minister of state for health and family welfare Anupriya Patel— also created problems for the BJP during the entire year.
Mr Rajbhar went public with his criticism of the Yogi government on a day-to-day basis and questioned its stand over the backward reservation and other issues raised by the Opposition, including law and order. Apna Dal, too, jumped on the bandwagon, in the last month of the year and announced a boycott of all the programmes of the state government.
Image of the Adityanath government also took a knock on the law and order front, particularly violence related to cow slaughter and alleged attacks by Hindutva forces on Dalits and minorities.
The year started with violence at Kasganj on January 26 when a youth was killed during a rally. On December 3, violence in Bulandshahr over cow carcass led to the death of a police inspector Subodh Kumar Singh and a youth.
Attack on Dalits in Saharanpur and similar law and order problems in different parts of the state during the entire year kept the state police and the government on tenterhooks. Clashes were witnessed in several parts of the state during the Muharram procession.
The year augured well for the Opposition.
SP and BSP opened talks for an alliance for the Lok Sabha polls as Indian National Congress and other parties also evinced keenness to join the anti-BJP platform. Poll results in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, too, provided encouragement to the Opposition in the state, while on the other hand, BJP has spruced up their efforts to rejuvenate its organisation at the booth level for the coming Lok Sabha polls.
The year commenced on a good note for the UP government. Totally focusing on the development arena, the BJP government during its two-day investors meet on February 21 and 22 garnered investments to the tune of around Rs 4.68 lakh crore when the state annual budget is just above Rs 4.28 lakh crores. Even the first ground breaking of a Rs 60,000 crore project was performed on July 29 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The government also launched an ambitious 340-km Poorvanchal expressway at Azamgarh on July 14 by the PM connecting Lucknow with Ghazipur and investment of over Rs 23,000 crores.
During the year, the government also commenced the process to acquire land for the proposed defence corridor in Bundelkhand and other regions. A Detailed Project Report for Bundelkhand expressway, too, was under process.
In a boost to the aviation sector, the Centre accorded its consent to the Jewar International airport in Gautam Buddha Nagar district, for which the government have started acquiring the land. Several new airports, including at Prayagraj and Gorakhpur, were inaugurated in the year. A new Ayodhya airport was announced.
The government also launched the Kashi Vishwanath corridor to broaden the approach to the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi though there was hiccups with some people approaching the Allahabad High Court.
The Prime Minister’s constituency came in for special attention during the year with Narendra Modi himself visiting Varanasi four times. The PM also inaugurated a waterway between Haldia and Varanasi and launched the cruise facilities for pilgrims going to Kumbh at Prayagraj.
Taj city of Agra witnessed protests, after Archaeological Survey of India increased the entry fee for the mausoleum from December.
A rash of road accidents occurred in the state. On an average, three commuters died on the Lucknow-Agra expressway daily and two on the Yamuna Expressway. In December, several people were killed in a series of collision of vehicles due to fog on these two expressways and others.
The year witnessed the loss of statesman-former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. BJP organised a big march in Lucknow and held programmes at all the districts in memory of its legendary leader. Another senior politician Narain Dutt Tiwari, who served as chief minister of both Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, also passed away.
The Insides Speak