Biography of Yogi, in making
The new slogan heard in Uttar Pradesh after the Gorakhnath Mutt head Adityanath Yogi took over as Chief Minister is, “Desh mein Modi, Pradesh mein Yogi”. The choice of Yogi shows that the BJP (read RSS and VHP ) interprets the victory as a vote for Hindutva, although the official text was development. Interestingly, even Yogi, who is known for his hardline Hindutva, chanted soon after taking over, “Sabka saath and sabka vikas will be my first priority.” Optimists say, give him a chance, while doomsayers claim that Uttar Pradesh will go the Hindutva way further. While talking of development, will he also keep Hindutva as a subtext, just as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been doing?
While the credit for the victory unquestionably goes to Modi, Adityanath did play a key role in the reverse consolidation of the majority vote behind the BJP. He was the most effective star and the Hindutva poster boy in the campaign, addressing dozens of rallies. He held sway over some 65 seats across 10 districts in the eastern belt, having won his 2014 election by a staggering three-lakh votes.
Ever since he stepped into active politics, the only slogan that his supporters raised was, “Gorakhpur mein rehna hai toh Yogi Yogi kehna hai (If you want to stay in Gorakhpur, chant the Yogi’s name).” In the appointment of five times MP as the Chief Minister, the BJP has sent out a loud message that it wants to further consolidate the Hindutva agenda. In fact, Yogi is primarily the choice of the RSS and VHP more than of Modi. This means that temple is on the top of the agenda. Love Jihad and Kairana were major election issues for Adityanath – the issues that liberals do not want. Yogi has repeatedly said that the Ram temple is an important issue for him personally. With 325 MLAs behind him, egged on by the VHP, he might be emboldened to move forward.
Yogi Adityanath may face huge challenges in the coming two years if he has to deliver Uttar Pradesh to the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha poll. The State is important because in 2014, it gave the BJP 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats and took it forward in the Assembly poll. For this, Yogi has to make sure that his agenda coincides with Mod’s ambition. There is no evidence to suggest that Adityanath is the ideal Vikaas Purush to deliver Modi’s development agenda. He has no administrative experience. The choice before him is to choose Hindutva and polarise the electorate further or promote the development mantra.
Uniform civil code and triple talaq battles are being fought in the Supreme Court. The State Government cannot do much, but Modi promised during the election campaign. BJP chief Amit Shah said during his first interview after the Uttar Pradesh victory that a decision would be taken in this regard.
What about his own views on issues like conversion, which could overshadow the Prime Minister’s development agenda? “If any Government-say, the Uttar Pradesh Government – wants, it can bring in a law banning conversion and I will support that”, he once said.
During the election campaign, BJP leaders including Yogi raised the issue of illegal slaughter houses in Uttar Pradesh. The BJP has alleged that there had been mass exodus of Hindus from Kairana in western Uttar Pradesh, which witnessed communal clashes from 2012-13 onwards. What action will he take on these? The other issues that came up during the campaign were women’s safety, law and order, maternal mortality, healthcare and education.
First of all, Yogi has to ensure good governance, which the BJP manifesto promised, and also law and order. Any Hindu-Muslim riot will harm social harmony. Adityanath has the image of a strong, muscular leader who can deal effectively with the law and order situation.
The second is job creation. The party manifesto promised that “the BJP Government will create seven million jobs or opportunities for self-employment in the next five years”. The manifesto also promises Rs 1,000 crore for a start-up venture capital fund, which will also create jobs for the youth”. Will Yogi Adityanath deliver?
Modi had promised that farm loan waiver would be the first decision taken by the new Chief Minister. The manifesto promises that all agricultural loans will be waived off for small and marginal farmers, while future loans will be provided interest-free. The manifesto has also promised 24 hour supply of electricity and free power for those below poverty line. Further, the BJP promised to pay sugarcane farmers in India’s largest sugarcane-producing State, within 14 days of the sale, while also coordinating with mill owners and banks to repay previously owed amounts to sugarcane growers. All these need to be implemented.
While it is too early to predict what Yogi will do, the liberals should take his word that his priority is development and give him the benefit of doubt until he proves otherwise. He has been a successful mutt head, and with the Centre’s guidance he might perform well.
(The writer is a senior political commentator and syndicated columnist)