The Yogi Adityanath administration is in damage control mode in the Hathras case as voices of opposition from within the BJP and RSS have become louder. There were always whispers against Yogi’s style of functioning as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh but a few recent incidents like the gangster Vikas Dubey case, and now Hathras, have brought the criticism out in the open.
While senior BJP leader Uma Bharti and Union minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti have publicly questioned the Yogi government’s handling of the Hathras case, the party top brass is also believed to be upset over how crudely the UP administration has dealt with the case. A senior BJP leader says that despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking to Yogi on September 30, the chief minister still allowed the situation to worsen.
“How was the police allowed to burn the girl’s body in the secrecy of the night? This only gives the impression that they have something to hide,” the BJP leader says.
And that is not all. “The senior police officer addressing media and claiming that the girl was not raped, giving all kinds of unwarranted information, was insensitive and in poor taste. Then locking the family and blocking access to the village was wrong. And asking the family of the girl to undergo a narco test is simply preposterous. One cannot even force an accused to undergo this invasive test, how could they think of doing it on the family,” questions another BJP leader from UP.
The situation has given an opening to the Opposition with the Congress seizing it. Both Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have aggressively been targeting the UP government and the BJP amid dramatic scenes of them being stopped by the police from going to Hathras. The BJP finally had to field Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani to counter the narrative as she slammed the Congress for politicising the case and calling it “selective outrage” on the party’s part.
While she desisted from commenting on the Yogi government’s handling of the case, she said that she had spoken to the chief minister and was assured that justice will be done. “Everyone should keep faith in the judicial process,” she told the media.
Even the RSS has conveyed its unhappiness over handling of the Hathras case. “There was always the perception that the Yogi government is biased towards Thakurs. With such actions, it becomes worse and indefensible,” a RSS functionary tells Outlook. He says they get so many complaints about the Yogi administration and the centralised manner in which he runs things. “The MLAs and even ministers in the UP government are not happy. None of the ministers or public representatives have any sense of ownership or involvement in the state's governance,” he says.
Another RSS leader says that it appears that Yogi is trying to ape Prime Minister Modi’s style of centralised governance. “One, he does not have the administrative experience that Modi had when he became the prime minister. Second, his bureaucratic advisors are poorly chosen,” he adds.
The general feeling is that things cannot be managed purely by perception management. Development, welfare measures, and law and order must be visible on the ground.