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First Challenge to Yogi Adityanath Governance in Uttar Pradesh May Impinge on 2019 Lok Sabha Election Outcome

But five months in office after winning a massive mandate, this incident in Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s hometown is the biggest challenge which BJP faces to its agenda of ‘good governance’- a promise made at the time of elections.

Pranshu Mishra | CNN-News18

Updated:August 13, 2017, 12:36 PM IST
First Challenge to Yogi Adityanath Governance in Uttar Pradesh May Impinge on 2019 Lok Sabha Election Outcome
Children admitted in a ward in the state-run Baba Raghav Das Medical College where at least 30 children died in the past 48 hours. (Image: PTI)

Gorakhpur: Yogi Adityanath is not just the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. He’s the head of one of the most influential religious institutions in UP — the Gorakhdham Peeth. He’s been one of the most strident voices of the BJP in Parliament for two decades now.

In the past, he has backed rebel candidates against the BJP’s official nominee in the city and ensured victory for his candidate in Assembly elections.

Yogi, it is said, knows what’s brewing in every nook and corner of Gorakhpur. As his Hindu Yuva Vahini supporters often remind the thronging crowds in a public meeting in Poorvanchal, “Gorakhpur mein rehna hai to Yogi, Yogi kehna hai” (chant Yogi, Yogi if you want to live in Gorakhpur).

Despite all this, what has surprised many is the fact that 60 infants died in a week in a city hospital, which the Chief Minister himself visited a few days ago.

While confusion looms over the actual cause of these deaths, there are multiple versions now on what led to this tragedy and whose fault it actually was.

But five months in office after winning a massive mandate, this incident in CM’s hometown is the biggest challenge which the BJP faces to its agenda of good governance — a promise made at the time of elections.

The facts which are now established via the letter of Gorakhpur DM are thus — nine deaths had taken place on the very day the UP CM was inspecting Gorakhpur and the BRD Medical College. Certain papers, now in possession of News18, also prove that there was an ongoing dispute between the firm supplying liquid oxygen and the hospital management.

Letters were written by the concerned firm to the principal of the medical college, and subsequent response from concerned departments of the institution prove beyond doubt that the supplier was threatening to stop the oxygen supply over non-payment of dues, which extended beyond Rs 65 lakh as of August 1.

The question is why was the UP CM not told of this critical aspect during his visit? Was the number of deaths shared with him? UP heath minister Sidharth Nath Singh claimed the CM was not informed of these aspects.

In a press conference held in Gorakhpur on Saturday, Singh, however, accepted that “the supply of piped oxygen was interrupted on the night of August 10 — first from 7.30pm to 10pm and then from 11pm to 1am — but things were controlled by use of oxygen cylinders. No deaths occurred due to lack of oxygen.”

But how did the government reach the conclusion that the deaths were not due to disruption in oxygen supply? When News18 asked the minister whether some technical committee was constituted to investigate, the UP minister claimed that “ministerial panel had reached its conclusion with the help of technical people and the doctors”.

The question then arises on how doctors and officers who kept the chief minister in the dark on August 9 can be trusted to give a clear and unbiased picture. Questions have also been raised over the decision to not conduct an autopsy to establish the cause of death.

The UP government, facing severe criticism, has also tried to hide behind these facts and statistics. It claims that every August an average of 20 deaths are recorded per day in BRD Medical College. At the same time, the government has ordered an inquiry into the issue of lack of payments to the oxygen supplier firm.

But the shocking realities of deaths at a time when the nation prepares to celebrate 70 years of Independence exposes the bitter realities. It also shows the rot which has set in amid promises of development by the political parties. The situation and system on the ground are under strain by institutional apathy and lack of resources.

Yogi Adityanath as an MP had often raised the issue of encephalitis deaths in Parliament. Seeing his commitment to the cause, many expected things to change on ground zero when he took the CM’s chair.

He is now leading the government in UP with a clear and massive mandate. His party is in power at the Centre. It is obvious that people would want their leaders to deliver. And deliver fast.

| Edited by: Puja Menon
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