Will Yogi deliver “hard Hindutva” message or development of all
Choice of the BJP to pick 44-year old Yogi Adityanath as the Uttar Pradesh chief minister is baffling to many and surprising to others but to me he was the natural choice for a party that has always excelled by raising emotional issues rather dwelling on concrete and quantifiable agenda.
In installing Yogi Adityanathas the 21st chief minister of the country’s biggest state, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah have given a very clear, categorical and bold message to the nation that ‘Hard Hinduatva’ is going to drive the party’s agenda in 2019 Lok Sabha election.
Fact that sentiments rather development or for that matter good governance bring electoral victories has been accepted by Modi-Shah combine and there is no going back on it.
Contrary to media reports that it was the Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh (RSS) that forced the Prime Minister and party chief to change their minds on making Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha as the next CM,Yogi was preferred because it may not be possible to showcase development to the electorate in 2019.
Meanwhile, the RSS has officially contradicted media reports that Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat had called up Modi to appoint Yogi as the chief minister and drop Sinha.
In fact, Yogi, who does not come from the RSS stream, does not fit the BJP’s parental organization as the new UP CM has a strong tendency to assert and defy orders.
However, it was easy to preserve Hindu consolidation achieved in just concluded assembly elections by making Yogi as the chief minister because all internal surveys of the BJP showed that after Modi he was the most popular leader among the Hindu electorate.
Shah had developed an excellent equation with Yogi after he was made General Secretary in-charge of UP in 2013 under Rajnath Singh which was further buttressed after Modi became the Prime Minister. Shah was elevated as the president of the BJP. The new BJP president was awfully impressed by Yogi’s following and influence in eastern UP and his organizational prowess.
Actually, both Modi and Shah were impressed byYogi’s Hindu Yuva Vahini that had been floated by the saffron cladded head of the Gorakhnath Temple to pursue rabid anti-Muslim agenda. That is why, Shah decided to put a helicopter at the disposal of Adityanath to campaign for the BJP candidates in recently held assembly elections and he toured the entire state giving provoking speeches to unleash a communal frenzy that helped the party to win 312 seats.
The Prime Minister himself realized during the campaigning in UP that talk of development was meaningless and that is why he began to stress on discrimination of Hindus and appeasement of Muslims in SP and BSP regimes. In fact, the Prime Minister’s reference to ‘Kabirstan and Shamsan’ was the idea of Yogi who had been telling his audience that the SP government had allocated more funds to development of Muslim graveyards than to the Shamsan (place where Hindu burn dead bodies.
Another factor that went in favour of the saffron Yogi was that despite his being a Rajput, he is not widely identified with his caste. Being a religious figure, he, in RSS-BJP assessment, is best suited to carry along the caste rainbow that was woven by Shah in assembly election. If the party had installed another leader on the UP chief ministerial chair, others castes may have felt alienated and therefore Yogi was the best choice.
Now that Yogi has been enthroned in UP, it remains to be seen whether Modi-Shah decision delivers result or not?
What may upset the calculations of the new BJP high command is the stubbornness and rigidity in Yogi’s persona. He has deep hatred towards the minority community and he may not be able to control his deep-seated biases and instincts while making administrative decisions,
While the BJP has made two deputy chief ministers in Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma to send a signal to non-Yadav OBCs and Brahmins that it was not neglecting them yet it may not prove enough because the Chief Minister is not known to share power.
Those who know him vouch that he is an outright Thakur leader who has never allowed leaders of other castes particularly from Brahmin to rise in stature in Gorakhpur region.
After taking over, the Chief Minister has asked his colleagues in council of ministers and top officials to declare details of assets and Income Tax returns that clearly shows that he is serious to tackle corruption. Further, Yogi”s choice of bureaucrats in districts and in his staff in coming days will offer some clue to his administrative style. Another indication will come when he chooses his successor at the Gorakhnath temple to run the affairs there and whom he prefers for the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat which is going to fall vacant after his resignation.
The new Chief Minister has promised that the UP government will work for all and will not be discriminatory against anyone. His promising words will come under close public scrutiny in coming weeks and months.
While Yogi’s governance of the state may or may not earn him brownie points in public assessment, the issue of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya is definite to help him to maintain his popularity among the electorate.
In close consultation with the RSS, BJP senior leader Subramaniam Swamy, who enjoys excellent equation with Yogi, is already working on the temple agenda. He has moved to the Supreme Court to hear the Ram Mandir case on daily basis and come with the judgement as early as possible to pave the way for the construction of a grand temple at a site in Ayodhya that is under dispute at present.
Author is a Veteran Journalist & Research Associate with Observer Research Foundation. [IFS]
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