In PM Modi’s Varanasi Speech, a Mix of False Claims, Half-Truths and Exaggerated Praises

On July 15, the prime minister inaugurated various development projects in UP and praised chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s governance.

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The Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly elections will be held between February to March next year. Campaigning for the polls has begun and it is not unusual for the incumbent government to make assertions about the milestones it has achieved in the past years. On July 15, PM Narendra Modi inaugurated various development projects in UP and praised chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s governance.

During the length of the 30-minute speech, the prime minister made various claims and among them were false or misleading statements. There were also instances where the PM presented his favourable opinions about BJP’s governance as facts.

Analysis of PM Modi’s speech in Varanasi

Claim 1: UP conducts the highest COVID-19 tests

Between 7:15 to 7:42 in his speech, the Prime Minister said, “Today UP is the state that conducts the highest testing and vaccination in the country…”

According to COVID19India.org, Uttar Pradesh has conducted the maximum number of tests. But UP is also the most populated state in the country.

Similarly, UP has administered the highest total number of COVID vaccine doses (first+second dose), as per the latest (July 26) data of the MoHFW. But when the data is analysed as a percentage of fully vaccinated people per lakh, a different story emerges.

Alt News calculated the number of fully vaccinated people per lakh of population in each state based on the number of Aadhaar cardholders.

As per this data, UP has 3,516.89 fully vaccinated people per lakh population. It is the second-lowest and significantly behind the national rate of 7,575.84. (view spreadsheet)

While the above statement could be directly countered with data, PM Modi made other misleading remarks that ignored the ground reality. While he praised CM Adityanath’s handling of COVID, terming it as “meritious”, the prime minister omitted to mention the thousands of dead bodies found floating on the Ganges or cremated along its banks when the second wave was at its peak.

Claim 2: Increase in medical colleges under Yogi

The prime minister also claimed, “Until four years go Uttar Pradesh had only a dozen medical colleges. Now they have increased by 4 times…”

CM Adityanath took oath as Uttar Pradesh chief minister in March 2017. As per MoHFW data, UP had 38 colleges in 2016.

In 2021, this increased to 57 which is not even close to a four-fold increase. A four-fold increase would mean that UP would have now had 152 colleges.

Claim 3: Jal Jeevan mission project is progresing rapidly

Halfway through his address, PM Modi said that the government is working rapidly to provide clean water to every household. He was referring to the BJP government’s 2019 flagship initiative Jal Jeevan Mission to provide tap water connection to every rural home by 2024. According to the data on the JJM website, in the past two years, the share of households with tap water connections in UP has risen from 1.96% to 11.99% of the total number of households. But in the same time period, the number of households with tap water connections in Bihar has increased from 1.84% to 85.74%. In absolute numbers, Bihar has added 1,44,15,050 (highest) connections as compared to UP’s 26,32,761 (fourth highest).

Claim 4: UP is safe for women under Yogi’s tenure

PM Modi also applauded the “rule of law” in Uttar Pradesh. “Parents used to live in fear and uncertainty about the safety of their daughters. This has changed. Those who harass our sisters and daughters know they can not escape the law and order,” he said, ironically only months after the Hathras gang rape that brought widespread criticism for the state government’s handling of crime against women, especially Dalit women.

The 2017 Unnao rape case had also revealed UP’s mishandling of sexual crimes. It took two years to punish BJP leader and MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar accused of raping a minor and only after she tried self-immolation outside the CM’s residence and her father died in judicial custody.

According to the latest data (2019) on the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), UP is the largest contributor (14.7%) to crime against women in the country. The data from the previous report also indicates the same.

As per the report, UP’s conviction rate of crimes against women is fourth-highest at 55.2. However, Mizoram which tops in this metric has a conviction rate of 88.3 followed by Manipur (58) and Meghalaya (57.3) [view PDF].

The total number of cases of crimes against women in UP is 199,553, the third-highest in the nation after West Bengal (263,854) and Maharashtra (220,435). [view PDF]

Alt News studied the latest NCRB data found that the following stats indicate an alarming situation in UP:

  1. UP has the most number of rapes in custody (22): 10 by a public servant and 12 by a management/staff of jail/remand home/place of custody (view PDF)
  2. The rate of dowry deaths is highest in UP at 2.2 per lakh people. It is twice as much as the national average. (view PDF)
  3. UP had most instances reported on miscarriage and acid attack in the country. (view PDF)
  4. UP and Maharashtra have the highest rates of total crimes (ROTC) against women in metropolitan cities with populations over two million. But UP has a much higher ROTC in all three cities as compared to Maharashtra. Further, Lucknow has the second-highest ROTC. The highest is in Jaipur, Rajasthan. (view PDF)
  5. UP ranks second in the country when it comes to cases registered for the total number of rape and gang rape. First is Rajasthan. (view PDF)

The prime minister praised the UP government on several counts, exaggerating its achievements and presenting his opinion of CM Adityanath’s governance as facts. He disregarded COVID deaths and oxygen shortage in the state, instead praised the CM’s work without presenting accurate data. UP contributes the most to crimes against women, yet the PM said that women now “feel safe” in the state.

This article was first published on Alt News.