Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath is busy preparing for the UP Investors’ Summit beginning on Wednesday. As he directed his officers and got into the nitty-gritties of planning, Yogi Adityanath spoke to TOI about how he is trying to change the way the world perceives UP. Excerpts:
At one of the Vibrant Gujarat summits while Prime Minister Narendra Modi was chief minister, Ratan Tata had commented that “if you are in business and not in Gujarat, you are a stupid”. When will industrialists say this about Uttar Pradesh?
About a year ago, the perception about UP was poor. We have been able to change that perception to a large extent…The keen interest shown by investors and big industrialists only proves this point.
One of the major apprehensions in the minds of investors is the law and order situation. You have taken steps to address this by cracking down on criminals. There have been encounters between criminals and police. Was this part of a plan to gain investor confidence?
We have been saying from the first day this government was formed that UP will be crime-free… We cracked down on criminals without any bias. We first warned them and then acted. We said, ‘If you fire, you will have to face the consequences. If you kill, the result won’t be good for you. Police pe goli chalaoge toh theek nahi hoga (If you fire at the police, you will have to pay for it).’ We can see the results today. Criminals are moving around on the streets holding up placards saying ‘I am not a criminal.’
The other big hindrance in attracting investment has been red tape and the mindset of the government machinery. How will you address this?
The perception about UP was so poor that no financial institution was willing to give us loans. Whenever we called them up or our officers went to them, they wouldn’t even speak to us. Even I tried calling up a few banks myself. I felt bad. I realised how bad our image was outside.
It was then that I decided that we will not go begging. We will generate our own resources but without putting the load on the people.
But the menace of red-tapism continues…
The negative perception was created by ‘prashashnik makarjaal (bureaucratic red tape)’. We are now using technology to counter this … by simplifying processes and making officers accountable.
Just before we came to power in UP, there were a few cases of hunger deaths in the state… When I took over as CM, I asked the authorities why this happened. I did not get an answer… We found that there were 30 lakh fake ration cards. And we found 37 lakh people who did not have ration cards. We gave ration cards. But still there were complaints that PDS shop owners do not provide full rations. We also realised that getting ration cards meant huge costs and we didn’t have the money. We then decided to prepare ration cards on simple paper, link them with Aadhaar and have PoS machines at every ration shop.
Technology is also the solution to bureaucratic red-tape. We have digitalised the singlewindow clearance system for industry. Now all file movements will be monitored by the chief minister’s office (CMO). Whenever a file gets stalled, the CMO will be alerted and I will get to know where the file is stalled. … Kisi ko naukri karna hoga toh usko jawabdehi ke saath karna hoga (One will have to do his job and be accountable for what he does).
It is all about changing the atmosphere. If you do the right things, the right message goes out to the right people.
It is said that investment proposals worth Rs 3 lakh crore have already been received by the UP government and the figure is expected to reach around Rs 5 lakh crore. How much of these do you expect to get converted into actual investment?
This will be the best investors’ summit in the country so far. Investment will be much higher than what is being expected.
You are making a lot of effort to improve law and order in the state and improving other parameters to instill confidence in investors. But don’t you think incidents like the violence in Saharanpur and Kasganj can act as setbacks?
These were accidents, not riots. Yeh samannya ghatnayen hain. Isse aap danga nahi keh sakte (These are routine incidents of crime. You cannot call them riots). Both the incidents were brought under control by UP police. There was no need to impose curfew. No military or para-military forces had to be called in. Action was taken without any bias.
There seems to be an image makeover since you took over as CM, from a pro-Hindutva figure to a CM talking about modernisation of madrassas. Is this in keeping with the changes you wish to bring about in the state, including welcoming investors?
My image has not changed. I am still what I was. People’s perception may have changed… We not only gave money to madrassas, we also helped modernise them … “Hum UP ko divyang nahi banne denge (We will not allow UP to become disabled)… Sabka vikas karenge (We will work for the development of all) but there will be no appeasement.
What will be your message to the industrialists when you meet them at the summit?
I will tell them, ‘Desh ke sabse bada bazaar mein aapka swagat hai (Welcome to the largest market in the country).’ UP is now truly Uttar Pradesh and no more a Prashna Pradesh.