I was enjoying a lazy (read news-free) Saturday, when my phone beeped, “Holy crap! Yogi Adityanath”, followed by a sad smiley. It was a friend who had recently moved to Canada, a self-professed Modi “fan”. I updated myself on the credentials of the new Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh—Attempt to murder? Check. Love jihad? Check.
I messaged my friend that I was past caring and what was the point anyway? I tried to care. For every #NotMYCM hashtag on my timeline, there were rejoinders, marking out commenters as saffron, not-so-saffron or on the fence. As Venkaiah Naidu spoke about the development theme being paramount over caste lines, even as the CM-designate sat in saffron robes, the irony was not lost on anyone. The scary part is that, politicians, saffron and otherwise, have learnt to talk the talk, make the right noises without needing to walk the talk. And now Yogi Adityanath has been sworn in as chief minister of India’s most populous state, with deputy CMs to balance the caste equations.
By now, everyone knows Yogi Adityanath’s claim to fame, but here’s a quick recap—he compared Shah Rukh Khan to terror mastermind Hafiz Saeed; he believes Mother Teresa was sent here to evangelise India and claims incidents of riots went up because a certain community’s population rose. He has also reportedly desecrated graveyards and believes in (re)conversions. The list is long and deadly (illustrious?), but again, as I see on my social media timelines, who is really clean in UP, some ask? We have a strong-minded leader at the helm, and that’s the prescription the state needs, say others. Somebody posted an image of a “kind-hearted” Yogi cuddling a tiger, even as Twitter exploded with images, calling him Vin Diesel’s doppelganger.
Just another day on social media, as we sift between news and outrage. Maybe it’s better to have a known bigot at the helm? Maybe. If you make the naughtiest boy in class monitor, perhaps he’ll finally learn to behave.
And the question everyone’s thinking—Is this Modi’s real face, too? But he’s really an Advani man, you know. Just like when a Salman Khan film flops, it’s never Bhai’s fault, it’s everyone around him. The script remains familiar; it’s development over Hindutva. We forget that there’s something more important than development, which is being progressive. With the new CM having declared in the past, “If one Hindu girl is converted, we will convert 100 Muslims girls…”, does the pro-choice, progressive voice even have a chance? As author Chetan Bhagat tweeted, “Lessons for all career politicians. Get noticed. Somehow. Good bad right wrong whatever. Say what people want to hear.” What message does that send out to younger generations?
Could we have avoided this? Maybe if electoral parties were mandated to declare the CM candidate before the state went to poll. Can we start a petition for this? Will it work? We don’t know.
Do I care? Yeah, but I’m struggling to pay my EMIs, not get bored with my job, maintain a social calendar and keep myself intellectually stimulated. Do I really have time for this? I’ll pass. Another day bites the dust.