Updated: March 11, 2022 12:17:29 pm
Accounting for 80 of the Lok Sabha’s 543 seats, and a 403-member Assembly, Uttar Pradesh, with its over 15 crore voters, is India’s most politically significant state. Since January 25, 1950, when the United Provinces was renamed as Uttar Pradesh, the state – through 17 Assembly elections — has determined the course of national politics, throwing up a legion of stalwarts, chief ministers, and Prime Ministers. Of its 21 CMs though, only Yogi Adityanath, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati have completed a full five-year term, reflecting the intense volatility of its politics. In the line-up of CMs, also lies the truth about the state’s caste equations. Ten of its 21 CMs have been Brahmins or Thakurs. The remaining include three Yadavs, three Baniyas, one Lodh, one Jat, one Kayasth, one Dalit and one Sindhi. A series looking at UP’s political history and changes through its CMs.
Then BJP president Amit Shah was a key architect of the BJP’s triumph, as he managed to create a rainbow support base of various castes for the party.
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While the BJP bagged 312 out of UP’s total 403 seats, its allies won 13 seats, including the Apna Dal’s 9 and the Suheldeo Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP)’s 4. The incumbent Samajwadi Party (SP) managed to get just 47 seats, with the tallies of the BSP and the Congress plummeting to 19 and 7, respectively.
There were then a number of chief ministerial aspirants in the saffron party, including prominent OBC leader Keshav Prasad Maurya, who was the state party chief, and then Union minister Manoj Sinha. But setting aside these names, the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) zeroed in on Yogi Adityanath, then party MP, for the job, who was sworn in as UP’s 21st CM on March 17, 2017.
Yogi Adityanath, who was born on June 5, 1972, in a village in Uttarakhand’s Garhwal, heads the Goraksh Peeth at Gorakhpur, which has a significant influence in the region. Yogi is the successor of Mahant Avaidyanath at Goraksh Peeth. He has been a five-time MP from Gorakhpur.
Yogi became UP’s fifth Thakur CM (after TN Singh, VP Singh, Vir Bahadur Singh and Rajnath Singh) and the fourth one from the Uttarakhand region (after GB Pant, HN Bahuguna and ND Tiwari). Uttarakhand was carved out of UP as a separate state in 2000.
The BJP’s victory by landslide in UP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and the 2017 Assembly polls came in the backdrop of the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, which had led to a polarisation in the state.
After taking over as the CM, Adityanath focused on various issues on which his SP predecessor Akhilesh Yadav’s track-record was perceived to be lacklustre.
The Adityanath government took up law and order as a priority area, which resulted in a series of police encounters with alleged criminals, that also sparked allegations of killings or booking of “innocents” on caste and religious lines in “fake encounters”. It went after many alleged criminals and demolished their “illegal” properties. In his speeches at rallies during his campaign for the 2022 Assembly polls, Adityanath highlighted this “bulldozer drive” as part of his “major accomplishments”.
His government improved availability of electricity across UP. There seemed to be resentment among a section of youths though because of soaring unemployment, with recruitment for government jobs being stuck or delayed.
The Adiyanath dispensation also drew criticism from various quarters allegedly over postings and transfers of officials and police officers on caste lines.
A hardworking leader, Adityanath moved away from his family after he became the disciple of Mahant Avaidyanath. His father Anand Bisht passed away in April 2020 during the first Covid-induced lockdown, but he was unable to attend his funeral. His profile on the Lok Sabha website mentions his predecessor and guru at the Goraksh Peeth, Mahant Avaidyanath, in the column for his “father’s name”.
Adityanath spearheaded the BJP’s high-voltage campaign for the 2022 polls, with the party leadership indicating that he would continue as the CM if the party retains the state.
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