Will Adityanath survive BJP’s game-plan for 2019 Lok Sabha elections?

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New Delhi:

After byelection defeats in the prestigious Gorakhpur and Phulpur Assembly contests and recently the Kairana Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh, the Yogi Adityanath government faced another acute embarrassment with Patanjali Ayurved announcing on Tuesday that it is pulling out and re-locating its proposed Rs 6,000 crore mega food processing project out of the state.

That the Patanjali managing director Acharya Balakrishna minced no words when he charged the UP government with noncooperation despite the phenomenally successful Patanjali and its founder Baba Ramdev being on the right side of the BJP is a dubious signal.

Balakrishna’s terse comment that farmers belonging to the land of Lord Ram and Krishna won’t be able to prosper due to the negative approach of the Uttar Pradesh government, spoke of his extreme frustration and pique.

The Haridwar-based Patanjali Ayurved had proposed to set up a plant in 425 acres of land to cater to the domestic and export markets through its step-down firm Patanjali Food and Herbal Park. The Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority could not until now get the required clearances for transfer of land from the state government.

Read | Baba Ramdev to review decision over Patanjali food park project following assurances from Adityanath

Although UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath spoke to Swami Ramdev over the phone on Tuesday night and was assured that the project was on the cards and “minor issues” would be cleared soon, doubts have arisen whether the BJP top brass is contemplating a change of guard in UP. Only a day prior, BJP president Amit Shah met Ramdev at his ashram.

Adityanath had been handpicked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi out of the blue and it was believed that he would ensure a steamroller win for the BJP in UP in the 2019 general elections. The byelection reverses have set the party top brass thinking whether he measures up to the job in hand. The Modi government needs a huge win in UP to be assured of a second term.

Patanjali had already got support from the financial institutions for the project, Balkrishna claimed. "We got extensions twice from the Food Processing Industries Ministry and now it (time) is lapsing as we could not get the required clearances from the state government," he said.

Earlier, Patanjali had said that its Yamuna Expressway-based plant would produce goods worth Rs 25,000 crore annually if it runs to its full capacity. It would create 10,000 direct jobs, Patanjali had said.

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The company which has given a consumer goods conglomerate like Hindustan Unilever (HUL) a run for its money, is at present investing in mega food park projects, including Nagpur (Madhya Pradesh) and Tejpur (Assam).

Since 2011, market shares of brands owned by HUL, India’s largest consumer packaged goods firm, have fallen by 0.4-0.5 per cent. This is the steepest fall in share by value among the top 20 brands in India’s personal care market—one where brand loyalty ensures market shares remain static—data from Euromonitor shows.

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