The 44-year-old mascot of Hindutava, Yogi Adityanath, was announced the 21st Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, and this came as a surprise to most people including a large section of BJP supporters. Political pundits who had still not overcome from the shocking election verdict of Uttar Pradesh, were puzzled with the turn of events. How did Yogi Adityanath often referred to as "fringe" win this tough race to become the Chief Minister of most populous and politically influential state of India? Media, as expected has started questioning the mandate that BJP won. Useless exercise as that may be but it will be useful to understand who Yogi Adityanath is and why did Narendra Modi choose him?
Adityanath is the Mahant or head priest of the Gorakhnath Mutt. His original name is Ajay Singh and he is the successor of Mahant Avaidyanath, the president of Hindu Mahasabha and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics. Adityanath is not just a BJP fire brand leader but also five-time MP from Gorakhpur seat. In 1998 when he first entered Lok Sabha, he was the youngest Member of Parliament. His popularity in his constituency can be understood from the fact that he is one of those few leaders who didn’t need a "Modi-wave" to secure his seat and his margin of vote has always kept increasing. He has a hardcore Hindutva image and has never been apologetic about it.
What are the challenges that the biggest state of the largest democracy of the world, will throw at the Chief Minister and is Yogi Adityanath really fit for the job?
1) Administration: Law and Order of UP is in shambles, and the state needs someone who can deal with this network of anti-social elements. Don't discount the administrative acumen of Yogi Adityanath, he is known to be a tough administrator and no one can threaten him with any consequences, and is incorruptible.
2) Caste Dynamics: According to Hindu tradition a saint has no caste. BJP win could be attributed to Mandal 2.0 as per political pundits. After huge mandate and support from all the castes it would not have been easy to please all caste groups while choosing the Chief Minister . Yogi is a perfect choice as he represents the Hindu Identity more than any specific caste.
3) RSS Factor: With emphatic win in UP after 2014 huge mandate, Yogi’s elevation is course correction in the meek attitude of yester years where they were often put on defensive by Lutyen’s media. This is now or never moment for them for wider acceptability.
4) Modi Factor: 'Development and Hindutva ' can get along just well. After any strong mandate allies and partners are thing of the past. Atal Bihari Vajpayee era saw soft Hindutva winning over allies but time has changed and so has the voter. Today BJP is in a strong position to win on its own.
5) Poorvanchal Factor: After decades, UP will have a Chief Minister from this region. Poorvanchal has been victim of mis-governance and therefore poor development and infrastructure . BJP has a strong presence in this region and Modi will wish to continue the same goodwill for 2019 mega battle.
6) Personal Popularity: Adityanath has undoubtedly been the most popular BJP leader in the state. He held most of the rallies in the state and, apart from Prime Minister, drew the biggest crowds in his poll speeches.
7) Frugal Yogi: Adityanath is known as a frugal Yogi and no one has ever accused him of any sort of corruption or financial misdeeds. He also has no dynasty to look after.
Yogi is also the founder of the Hindu Yuva Vahini, a social, cultural and nationalist group of youth who seek to provide rightist Hindu platform. What most people often forget is that Yogi has worked for the upliftment of poor Hindus and Muslims equally in his area.
8) Caste Politics: Yogi and his organization openly oppose Caste based system. Yogi has always been a staunch supporter of inter-caste marriages and works for upliftment of every community with special attention on Dalits.
Picking Yogi Adityanath as the Chief minister of UP does involve a fair amount of risk and is a big gamble. Modi however is known to be a risk taker. With this decision, he has taken huge risk again. It remains to be seen how Mascot of Hindutva will deliver on fair governance and development of Uttar Pradesh. Perhaps Modi felt that for the fruits of development to reach the last man in the line, it was important to have a no-nonsense man like Yogi Adityanath at the helm of affairs.
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