Since he has taken over, Yogi Adityanath has made a slew of big announcements, including closing down illegal slaughterhouses, and has met his ministers informally several times, but had so far not called a cabinet meeting.
It is unusual for a new chief minister to not hold a cabinet meeting within days of taking over and the delay is being ascribed to his first trying to figure out how to fund a farm waiver. He is bound by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's promise at a public rally during the election campaign. "We will waive farmers' loan in our first cabinet meeting after the results of the UP elections," PM Modi had said.
The BJP's manifesto or Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra for UP also promised to waive loans of small and marginal farmers. UP has 1.8 crore marginal farmers and about 30 lakh small farmers.
The state's farmers owe about 62000 crore to banks and cooperative societies, money which the state doesn't have. The chief minister is trying to get central help, but helping fund a loan waiver in only one state will be impossible for the BJP-led central government. "We will have to either seek funds from the Centre or raise loans on our own," a UP government spokesperson said.
Sources said the new state government could announce a partial waiver today. State Agriculture Minister Surya Pratap Shahi said a proposal on writing off farm loans would be presented before the cabinet when it meets at 5 this evening.
Other key promises like electricity in rural areas and an ordinance on slaughterhouses too are expected to be taken up at the cabinet meeting. "Decisions on a number of important issues will be taken at the cabinet meeting on April 4. The focus will be on honouring the promises made in the party's manifesto," said Keshav Prasad Maurya, one of UP's two deputy chief ministers.
The cabinet meeting is being watched keenly. "I hope farmers' loans will forgiven...In many nationalized banks the Samajwadi Party has forgiven farmers' loans, now let us see how much the BJP implements," said Juhi Singh of the Samajwadi Party, which ruled UP for the last five years under Akhilesh Yadav.
"We are in opposition, but a strong one. The Samajwadi Party is with the people. Let us see what schemes the BJP actually rolls out on the ground. If people will have a problem then we will come on the roads," vowed Ms Singh, whose party could win only 47 seats in this year's election, with the BJP sweeping 312 seats, 325 along with its allies.