Adityanath as CM of UP suggests that what used to be the fringe element of Hindutva in BJP, now occupies mainstream under the Modi- Shah dispensation of the ‘party with difference’
With Yogi Adityanath as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, the wheel has made a full circle. Adityanath heads Gorakhdham peeth (also known as goraksha peeth), which virtually regulates the social life in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Terai region on account of its enormous clout over the region’s political economy.
He inherits his political legacy from his mentor and father-figure Mahant Avaidyanath who along with his Guru Mahant Digvijaynath was a committed soldier of cow-protection campaign launched by Swami Prabhudutt Brahmachari. In the first Lok Sabha election in 1951, Brahmachari contested against India’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru from Phulpur constituency and lost badly. Though Brahmachari continued his campaign which eventually turned violent at many times, his views on cow protection could never find resonance in the main-stream politics.
Mahant Avaidynath who belonged to the Hindu Mahasabha represented Maniram assembly seat since 1962 and later represented Gorkahpur Lok Sabha four times (in 1970, 1989, 1991 and 1996) could never occupied the centrality in the mainstream Hindutva politics led by Atal Bihari Vajpayei and LK Advani. He was always on the fringe of extreme right politics.
But appointment of Adityanath is not only a clear departure from the past but also challenges the carefully constructed Nehruvian edifice of Indian polity that seeks to insulate religion from politics. Of course, it would be height of naivety to assume that the Mahant was appointed as the chief minister under pressure from the hardliners of the Sangh Parivar. Far from it, the most appropriate inference would be to say that what used to be the fringe element of Hindutva now occupies the mainstream under the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah dispensation of the party.
And there is indeed a method in the madness. Look at the election manifesto in which the BJP has promised to shut down mechanised abattoirs all over the state immediately after the party takes over the government. The obvious implication of this decision is that the abattoirs that are perceived to be owned by Muslims would stop functioning. Its impact would be felt more by Muslims than Hindus as slaughter-houses for big animals are believed to have employed large Mulsims.
In parts of western UP these abattoirs have become a source of large scale social discontent and conflict. In rural areas there were complaints of stealing away cows and buffalos by miscreants to sell them off in those abattoirs. In these elections, the BJP took up this cause and promised to shut down all mechanized slaughter-houses. Obviously with Yogi in the saddle, this order has to come with immediate effect and the new chief minister with his image of protectors of cows would ensure that the order is implemented with ruthless efficacy.
In his Gorakhpur and adjoining districts of Eastern UP, Adityanath is known to have created an army of volunteers that brazenly takes the side of Hindus in a situation of communal conflict. The fact that Yogi’s aggressiveness finds legitimacy among local Hindus speaks volumes about the partisan stance of the state under Mulayam-Mayawati and later Akhilesh Yadav’s regime. His volunteers took on gangsters like Mukhtar Ansari in Mau and Azamgarh in face of an adverse government and created a halo of savior for Adityanath. Given these credentials, Yogi would be best suited to assign the task of creating anti-Romeo squads that may unleash a reign of terror among those “Muslim boys” indulging in eve-teasing outside girl’s colleges.
Though the other political agenda of loan waiver for farmers and electricity supply can be taken care of by others in the government, the unmistakable message of Yogi’s coronation as UP chief minister is reaffirmation of the party’s faith in “prakhar hindutva (full-blown Hindutva)” as its political objective. Unlike the past when Vajpayei-Advani pursued the line of a moderate Hindutva and tempered their discourse with an inclusive and acceptable language, the new BJP leadership does not seem to be inhibited by these limitations.
Is it not a strange coincidence that Phulpur which was represented by Nehru is now represented by deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, a hardline Hindutva poster boy of the Sangh Parivar ? Of course the defeat of cow protector Swami Prabhu Dutt Brhamchari in 1951 is believed to be suitably avenged today by the Sangh Parivar. The political spectacle at Lucknow on Sunday would surely mark a new epoch of politics which will be radically different from the past. The new BJP would be as unashamed about pursing the path of Hindutva as political goal as non-BJP parties were in seeking Muslim votes in the past. Ironically enough, all this would be done within the framework of the Constitution. It gives an explicit message: let us not shed tears about it as Nehruvian concept of polity is buried deep in today’s politics.
Hit On Multiple Sparrow With Single Arrow
Appointment of Adityanath Yogi aka Ajay Singh Bisht to the post of Uttar Pradesh chief minister and two deputy chief ministers Dinesh Sharma and Keshav Prasad Mourya is clear indication that the ‘party with difference’ is aware of the fact that its thumping majority could take place in UP assembly polls because it was able to repeat its forward and most backward caste (MBC) combination that voted enmass for the party in 2014 and in 2017. These two caste categories constitute near 32 percent (22 percent forward caste and 10 percent MBC) of the UP electorates. Apart from this, by appointing two hardcore Hindutva leaders Adityanath and Keshav Prasad Mourya, the BJP has send a strong message to the Hindus living in western UP, especially Jats and Gujjars whose votes are decisive in near 22 Lok Sabha seats and around 140 assembly seats. Jats and Gujajr who think they had to face wrath of the state government’s minority appeasement during Muzaffarnagar riots are revering themselves after the appointment of Hindu hardliner as the state CM. So, the calculation suggests that BJP has tried to consolidate near 36 percent of the net state electorates thinking other than Yadav OBCs going with its momentum as they hate dominance of Yadavas when the BJP is out of office in UP. Hence, the ‘party with difference’ has planned to consolidate its 40 percent of the net vote base in coming elections in Uttar Pradesh. Let’s see whether it bare fruits for the party or the opposition comes with some alternate social engineering that can take on this BJP’s strong poll innovation.
One alternative can be joining hands of BSP supremo Mayawati with SP-Congress alliance creating a Bihar like ‘grand alliance’ in UP. After two successive poll routes, Mayawati will be facing existential crisis in 2019 as JDU leader Nitish Kumar had to face after 2014 decimation. Hence, we shouldn’t feel surprised if Mayawati responds to Akhilesh Yadav’s olive branch that he offered immediately after the UP assembly polls were over. Remember, even though Maywati’s BSP could win only 19 assembly seats, it polled over 22 percent of the popular votes while the SP which won 47 seats, it could manage below 22 percent of the polled votes. So, it would be a myth, if somebody believes that BSP supremo has lost her control over the Dalit votes. She still commands over her loyal vote bank and if UP goes to polls with two polls only then, it would become extremely difficult for the BJP to even open its account in the Western UP as the grand BSP-SP alliance would be sitting on deadly Dalit-Muslim combination which would constitute more than 50 percent of the net voters in 22 Lok Sabha seats falling in the western UP and 140 assembly seats.
However, Mayawati may not decide to go with SP and wooing Muslims again as it dents her Dalit vote bank because when the riot occurs, its Dalits who are the Hindu casualties due to Muslim extremism. Hence, Mayawati wooing Muslims may not be liked by her loyal Dalit voters and they have already shown this in recently held UP Assembly polls. But, it doesn’t mean SP-BSP alliance is impossible. The SP-BSP alliance can be successful only when they give lesser number of minority candidates in the poll fray, at least in the riot prone Western UP. The SP leadership can continue its love for minorities in the Eastern UP and central UP, but to ensure the success of the alliance, SP will have to put its love for minority at periphery in the Western UP because Dalits may feel hesitant to vote for a ‘grand alliance’ candidate who comes from the minority community.