Wednesday, April 14, 2021
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A ghar wapsi of another kind – Yogi Adityanath is on a mission to shine in this too

Ghar wapsi of non-Hindus made Yogi an icon of Hindutva, now the ghar wapsi of migrant laborers can catapult him to a new status.

Being the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh for last over three years now, it’s Yogi Adityanath’s penchant for ‘ghar wapsi’ that has not died. Sensing an opportunity in the ‘return of the natives’, he is trying his hand at ‘ghar wapsi’ again, though this time with a difference in style, motto and agenda.

Yogi Adityanath, as the founder of Hindu Yuva Vahini or as the BJP MP from Gorakhpur, never shied away from extending support for ‘ghar wapsi’ of non-Hindus. Even as the Mahant of Gorakhnath temple, Yogi felicitated those who wanted to return to the Hindu fold.

The ghar wapsi he is trying to master this time would have far reaching social and economic impacts, if implemented in letter and spirit. At the centre of it, this time, are labourers, dislodged from the economically better off western states where they moved seeking greener pastures, but Covid-19 rendered a cruel shock, and they are returning in hordes to the state they belong.

The CM, on one hand, has ensured that migrants coming back to their native towns and villages face no hardships, as pictures of several people walking hundreds of kilometres on foot go viral, while on the other hand, he has asked officials to ensure job opportunities for them so that workforce is retained even after lockdown is lifted.

The idea, obviously, is to stop maximum skilled labourers leaving UP and employing them here.

Now, if Yogi could do what he intends to do, it will not only act as a booster for the state’s economy but may also alter the state’s economic parameters.

Even as the country is under lockdown for past over two months, the pictures of labourers from various parts of the country returning to their native places, some on foot, some on cycles, and others on whatever means they were able to manage, gave opposition enough fodder to attack the Yogi government.

But while the opposition was busy how to create a controversy around the tragedy, Yogi Adityanath had started taking measures to turn lessen the impact of the tragedy. He became the first Chief Minister to bring back labourers on buses as the videos and photos of migrants walking on foot went viral. The migrants were forced to walk on feet due to cheap politics of some parties and due to misinformation, but Yogi Adityanath decided to first provide relief before taking on those indulging in politics.

The UP CM not only directed officials to ensure no labourer returning to his native place remains hungry but also ordered to chalk out a plan for their settlement in UP itself.

The CM’s idea is that since the labours returning back to UP are mostly skilled and experienced, they can come handy in UP’s development, provided the state is able to hold them in the state itself even after lockdown is over. For this, the creation of jobs that can satiate the need of the skilled worker and better opportunities would work.

The CM knows that such labourers could be held back in the state only if MSME sector begins giving desired results. A committee under its minister Siddharthnath Singh has in fact began chalking out plans to give a boost to MSME sector other than that announced by Centre to hold back the migrants.

It is this MSME sector through which the government has begun plans to make people self-reliant, by helping them in starting own businesses, which in turn can utilize skilled workers who have returned to their native places from states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi etc.

Until May 21, over 15 lakh migrants had reportedly returned to UP and a total of over 20 lakh had returned to their native places. Along with this, UP has also become the first state to utilize the Shramik special trains by Railways, while some other states have shown an unwillingness to take back their own migrant labourers. A total of 1154 Shramik Special trains and over 12,000 Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) buses have brought over two million labourers. The migration back to native places is continuing.

The ghar wapsi of the labourer is huge in the last fortnight and so are the challenges.

While Yogi’s success rate in older ghar wapsi programs which were carried out by VHP and other organisations made him Hindutva poster boy, he might just propel himself to the poster boy of development and rehabilitation if the current round of ghar wapsi is successful.

Yogi has got barely 2 years to show that he can make this ghar wapsi successful too. The Uttar Pradesh assembly election of 2022 is surely going to have this ghar wapsi as an election issue.

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Rajiv Srivastava
Author is a senior journalist, who has worked with Times of India, Hindustan Times, Zee News and other media organisations.

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