BJP MP from Gorakhpur, Yogi Adityanath took oath as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister on Sunday afternoon on the back of a landslide verdict in Assembly elections for the Bharatiya Janata Party in India’s most populous state. Adityanath has a coloured past where he often transcended boundaries and indulged in acts advocating religious exclusivism and hardline religious propaganda. The decision to appoint him as the chief minister of the state could be make or break for the party but it is clear that the decision has been taken keeping the 2019 Lok Sabha elections elections in mind.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief and poll tactician Amit Shah have kicked into overdrive after these elections and one of the main tests was to deliver on the 2014 right-wing appeasement poll promises. Adityanath is a five-time MP from Gorakhpur and has an unbelievable hold in eastern UP. The fact that he has been unbeaten since 1998 speaks volumes about his support in that belt. In fact, the 44-year-old is one of the youngest CMs in the country.
There are few members in the BJP who have such a level of acceptance among its cadre and faithful supporters. BJP’s huge victory in Uttar Pradesh in 2014 was vital to the BJP’s poll performance. The party claimed victory in 73 Lok Sabha constituencies in UP out of 80, adding up to its total count of 282.
PM Modi and Amit Shah are equally important for the BJP returning to power at the Centre in 2019. While PM Modi’s plank has been good governance and reform, Shah has pulled the strings from behind the scenes — from ticket distribution to poll campaigns.
Development will not happen overnight. Even if the government puts some plans in motion, it will take at least 3-4 years for its effects to show. The last two years have been all about reforms. The wins in recent elections and particularly UP will help the BJP gain majority in the Rajya Sabha as well, so for the first time, the party will be able to push its legislations swiftly in parliament.
As far as appointment of two deputy CMs goes, it was evident that supporters of both UP BJP Chief Keshav Prasad Maurya and Manoj Sinha — both touted previously as CM faces — were getting restless. Some had even started protesting. Adityanath had a huge hand in leading the BJP to victory so the party had to reward him as well and give him the authority to deliver on issues that would help the BJP hold on to the massive vote bank for 2019. The consolidation is achieved by the fact that BJP projects him as a yogi and thereby eliminating any dialogue of caste. The dialogue revolves on different issues as well. The failure to provide a crucial role to Adityanath in 2014 miffed him to the extent that Amit Shah had to console him by flying to his ashram in the poll year.
In respect to the BJP, it has pushed issues like GST, digital banking, easing investment channels. On those fronts, despite drawing criticism, PM Modi has persistently kept at it and achieved applaudable results. The wheel of development, sadly for him, doesn’t move as fast as he would like and such ambitious projects defining his achhe din narrative will need more than a term to give results. Holding UP will be crucial for that and Adityanath is the key to the puzzle.
Now, the onus is on Adityanath to manage the state for the remainder of the Lok Sabha term. Adityanath has always been outspoken while Modi has been comparatively subtle. Adityanath has been a polariser, consolidator but never a reformer or administrator. Now that he has the approval of his party, he will, as it stands, rule UP for the next five years. He would need to put a certain work ethic to show as well since that was the only way PM Modi was able to put some of the bad times during his Gujarat rule behind him.