“I find western UP unsafe. We do not face a threat in eastern UP because there we use the language that people understand and set them straight…,” Yogi Adityanath said at one of the many election rallies in Uttar Pradesh.
Call it political shrewdness or politics of polarisation, the BJP finally decided to name Member of Parliament from Gorakhpur Yogi Adityanath as the next chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. With a brute majority of 312 MLAs, the BJP is well within its right to pick any leader it wants to lead one of the largest states in the country. Yogi’s coronation as the next UP chief minister, however, is problematic in many ways.
For long he was identified as the fringe who “doesn’t really come in the way of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of inclusiveness”. The party had cultivated and successfully set a narrative of the fringe and the mainstream voices within the party. But all along, the BJP seemed to gain from what the fringe was unleashing – the cow vigilantes, Kairana exodus, Ramzada and haramzada brigade etc. Even as political analysts were trying to read and decode the party’s massive victory in the elections, it was looking clear that BJP will form its government on the agenda of governance. May be there was a sense of denial that the BJP would even consider Yogi Adityanath as the contender for the chief minister’s post. But then, victory is what matters in electoral politics. So what if that victory comes at the cost of social disharmony?
The facade has now crumbled. There is no more pretense and the message is loud and clear: those who promote communalism will be rewarded in the party. A Hindutva posterboy, Yogi Adityanath has always hogged the headlines for his hate speeches. In 2014, the Election Commission had ordered an FIR against him for speeches targeting the Muslim community. After the 2014 Lok Sabha elections when the BJP came to power with a landslide majority, he led the hate agenda, making provocative comments, one after the other.
In the run up to the UP Assembly elections, he had compared the situation in western Uttar Pradesh to that of Kashmir. “When I look at western UP, I have regrets… when I see the social framework and demography… On January 19, 1990, Hindus had to migrate collectively from Kashmir. A massacre took place, the honour of mothers and sisters were openly tramped upon. If we have seen a sight similar to this anywhere, it was either in Bengal or western UP. Kairana and Kandhla are examples,” he had said.
Soon after the announcement of Yogi as chief minister, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated his slogan of collective aspirations for development of India at the India Today Conclave. But if we go back to UP elections, BJP’s candidates’ list exposes the majoritarian agenda of the party – a counter claim to what PM Modi wants us to believe in. Muslims constitute close to 20 per cent of the state’s population. But the BJP didn’t find even one suitable candidate from the community to field in any of the 403 seats in the state Assembly. Well, the argument could be political expediency and winnability factor for not giving tickets to any candidate from the minority community. But the subtext of the argument is that the BJP doesn’t really care for the Muslim vote. The BJP, nevertheless, swept the polls. And soon came the claim of victory of the development agenda of the party under PM Modi and Amit Shah. But that wasn’t to be.
The development wave that was successfully sold seems to be already getting a reality check. Was there any inclusive agenda in UP at all? PM Modi had also stirred the communal pot when he invoked kabristan and shamsan during his election rallies in the state. Interestingly, these remarks were not seen as appeasement of a subtle kind.
There was always this exclusive agenda at play, just that it was coated in the charade of development plank. And Yogi Adityanath as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, is perhaps the personification of that agenda.