After many, many years, we were told that, Uttar Pradesh finally has a chief minister with "impeccable integrity". However, it seems "honesty" alone is not enough to govern a state efficiently. This is evident in good measure as Yogi Adityanath continues to grapple with the state's law and order situation even though he has completed more than six months in office as the chief minister.
There are multiple examples suggesting administrative failures that raise questions over the CM's capability to govern the country's most-populated state.
Let's take the most-recent incident of crime on the Yamuna Expressway connecting Noida to Agra. There was a sensational robbery in an Agra-bound bus. This is such an important arterial road leading to Uttar Pradesh's most-favoured tourist destination, Agra. The bus was waylaid and passengers who protested were left injured by the miscreants who were carrying lethal weapons. What about policing on this route? Is there any policing at all?
The Yamuna Expressway has been in news for all the wrong reasons. Repeated incidents of rape, robberies and heinous crimes. Highway patrol vehicles are seldom seen, but it's doubtful if random checking of buses or even frisking of passengers are being done. Because in that case criminals travelling in the guise of passengers would have been caught with weapons in their possession. It's clear that the standard of policing is much below par, at least on this stretch. After the crime, the offenders fled away, though sources say they were mostly inhabitants of peripheral districts such as Mathura, Bulandshahr etc. If so, is it difficult to nab them? Do we call it lethargy or police inertia?
There is a heavy flow of traffic on the expressway and people take this route to save their precious time, but, sadly, they often fall prey to criminals. While women have become victims of rape, others have fallen prey to thieves and thugs.
It's strange that Greater Noida is preparing to get an airport and ultra-modern infrastructure with state-of-the-art facilities. There is a Formula One Racing track with a good arena. Yet crimes committed today are reminiscent of the medieval ages when thuggee and loot were the order of the day.
Can we still call Uttar Pradesh a progressive state? Inhabitants are reeling under the fear of assaulters and thieves even as a deep sense of insecurity prevails while people travel through this route.
Talking about policing in the state, we may also recall what happened in the Benaras Hindu University ( BHU) recently. While the vice-chancellor has gone on "indefinite leave", the role of the police has also been questioned bringing bad name to the custodians of law and order.
If the policemen deployed on the BHU campus were innocent, then what prompted them to resort to lathicharge as is being alleged by the students? A detailed probe will throw light on the "failures" of the police, but prima facie it looks like there was no direction given to the cops by their seniors. Or they too were perhaps clueless how to deal with the situation. Does it reflect on the police leadership that they failed to anticipate the situation and things went out of hand in the PM's constituency?
It is hoped that corrective measures are taken sooner than later to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents.
Now let's focus on the communal situation in the state. It's not that communal disturbances are new to this state. It's been a major cause for concern since ages, particularly during festivals such as Dussehra, Holi, Eid and Muharram. Clashes between Tazia processions crossing the path of devotees out to immerse Durga idols used to happen earlier also. But it's expected of a modern government with a huge mandate to make a departure from the past and ensure that there are no more clashes.
A couple of days ago, Kanpur saw violent clashes during Muharram. Many vehicles were torched and prohibitory orders were promulgated. The violence left several, including policemen, injured.
Rawatpur and Parampura localities were the worst-affected. Kanpur apart, eastern UP district of Balia too witnessed Muharram-related clashes. Here, Sikandarpur was badly hit. The situation in both the cities continue to be tense threatening a relapse.
The intelligence department of the state police has a separate branch completely devoted to garner hard intelligence related to the state's communal situation. It calls for a fresh take to ensure if this arm of the intelligence is still alive and kicking.
It will be unfair to blame Yogi solely for riots in a state with mixed population, but what the CM must ensure is that his administration rises to the occasion to meet such eventualities. Incidents in Balia and Kanpur shouldn't be allowed to become a pattern. As it is, there are several communally sensitive districts in UP with an ugly track record of communal riots - Aligarh, Moradabad, Sambhal, Meerut and a host of others.
The Yogi administration must pull up its socks. After all, the CM has his bureaucratic and police teams hand-picked by himself. They must deliver as expectations are naturally high after the dismal record of the Samajwadi Party government. But for how long will the present dispensation keep blaming its predecessor?
With a new team in place with new energy and vigour, the UP government should stand up to the expectations of the people who are hoping to see clean and efficient administration. Repeated failures in tackling incidents of crime, failure in law and order and communal discords will corrode the credibility of the Yogi-led government.
And that's a risk Yogi Adityanath won't like to take - dashing the hopes of his voters.