With eye on 2019, BJP government starts work in Lucknow even before swearing-in

NEW DELHI: Bharatiya Janata Party’s Uttar Pradesh government hasn’t assumed office yet.
But work for the BJP government has already started — the state’s top bureaucrats and police officers know mid-2019, general election time, is their first big deadline.
So, they are drawing up plans, reviewing schemes, getting visits from central official teams, and, most important perhaps, unlearning ‘patronage’ administration ways absorbed during 15 years of Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party rule.
ET spoke to bureaucrats in Lucknow and Delhi as well as senior BJP leaders for this report. Some spoke off record.
That the PMO’s top official Nripendra Misra and cabinet secretary PK Sinha are both from UP cadre means there will be “deep knowledge” about the state’s administration at the central level, say senior officials.
UP’s senior officials are carefully studying BJP’s state election manifesto, knowing the incoming administration will pick its priorities from the 30-page promise to voters. And bureaucrats and police brass know what’s expected of them.
“We do not have luxury of five years to transform UP. We have just about two years when our performance in UP would be put under scanner during 2019 Lok Sabha polls… expectations are huge. So, it will be an accelerated development model for UP,” a senior central government official told ET.
“Law and order, 24-hour power supply, closing of slaughterhouses, farm loan waiver and clearance of sugarcane dues — these are the immediate priorities. State officials have been briefed,” this official said.
In Lucknow, UP chief secretary Rahul Bhatnagar has already asked departments to prepare review reports. “As the new government is coming, I have asked all departments to prepare latest progress reports on all major schemes. We are getting a booklet ready for the new government… as for priorities of the new government, whatever directions they give, we will follow,” Bhatnagar told ET.
Bureaucrats are also carefully analysing fallouts of some poll promises such closing slaughterhouses. This may have employment implications, officials said, but they said they are aware of the “importance of this promise”.
A team from the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) under the power ministry and its adviser CRISIL is in Lucknow holding meetings on UP’s enrolment in the Modi government’s ‘24X7 Power for All’ project.
UP is the only state that has not signed up for the project so far — a point repeatedly mentioned by power minister Piyush Goyal during the election campaign.
A notice for the meeting in Lucknow on March 15 was issued from Delhi by the power minister, mentioning this had been “discussed” with secretary, power, UP government.
This is a clear indication the Centre has hit the ground running in UP. Officials said the goal is to provide power for all by 2019.