In the BJP, Yogi Adityanath’s appointment as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh is being interpreted as the “strongest signal in the run-up to the 2019 elections” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, and of their “willingness to go for Hindu consolidation” ahead of the polls. Hours after Adityanath was named by the party to lead UP, senior BJP leaders, while conceding there were differences within over the choice, pointed out that even before the elections in the state, there was “never any confusion in Shah’s mind” about the “suitability” of Adityanath for the top post.
“We have no doubt that Yogi Adityanath will fight corruption with determination and will be in a position to deliver what the BJP promised in its manifesto. No other candidate for the post of CM has the kind of willpower he has to take on the system,” a senior party leader said.
Identity politics, the leader said, will dominate the next Lok Sabha election. “Yogi Adityanath’s appearance on the dais as Chief Minister will speak louder before he even speaks development,” the leader said.
Several BJP leaders were of view that “this is a huge political gamble by Amit Shah to go for Hindu consolidation in the next 24 months”. One of them underlined: “If opposition parties condemn Yogi Adityanath recklessly, then the possibility of consolidation increases.”
A senior leader, familiar with the way the bureaucracy functions in UP, said “no change or development is possible” in the state “unless the police and the powerful IAS arms are reined in”.
“Yogi is a Hindutva icon but has the added advantage — over others who were in the fray — of possessing abilities to effectively deal with the all-powerful police,” the leader said.
Another source in the BJP said: “It would have been dishonest not to read the mandate of 2017. People of UP gave a decisive mandate for both Hindtuva and development. To those not in the BJP, Yogi may appear to be a brazen choice. But he is a natural choice for Modi and Shah. It sends a strong signal.”
Asked why a sanyasi who dressed in saffron was chosen to lead a state where 20 per cent of its 20 crore population is Muslim, the BJP leader said: “For us, saffron clothes are not a red rag.”
“What can we do if you do not take us seriously? When did we say there is contradiction between development and Hindutva? Both can go together. Wait and watch,” the leader said.
Asked if the choice of the Chief Minister will have an adverse impact on the image of the PM and BJP, the leader countered: “When was our image good in the eyes of the pseudo-secular? We will ensure we deliver what we promised to the people of Uttar Pradesh. Read our manifesto.”