The Yogi Effect : Will Adityanath create Yogi 2.0 version of himself and stake his claim as BJP’s PM candidate?
When Narendra Modi, serving as chief minister of Gujarat, staked claimed to BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, it was almost a cakewalk for him. There was hardly any leader who enjoyed mass following as him except Rajnath Singh (with his own set of limitations) and Shivraj Singh Chauhan. The rest were manipulators of the Lutyen’s Club or the Khan Market gang that Modi has vowed to finish. Rajnath Singh, as BJP president, joined Modi while Chauhan offered a whimper of a protest confined to media lobbying without risking his position in Madhya Pradesh.
The deck appears uncannily similar in the case of Yogi Adityanath. He has crafted a Hindutva rockstar image with his aggressive tone and fiery no-nonsense approach towards the Muslims. Being returned to office with a thumping majority makes him a leader non pareil in the BJP firmament. There is hardly any leader in the Hindi heartland who seems in a challenger position to the 49-year-old in an era post Modi. The demand for his rallies during elections in West Bengal and the southern states are any indication, it seems he will hold the sway for some time to come.
So, will it be a cakewalk for the monk of Gorakhnath peeth. Only, if politics were so predictable and the stakeholders so docile.
Despite a fiery Hindutva agenda that he pursues, one tends to forget that Yogi Adityanath does not enjoy an RSS background. He is not a trained swayamsevak, leave alone a dyed in the wool pracharak like Narendra Modi.
Whether RSS will offer him support, so vital in the BJP scheme of things, is a question that doesn’t have a clear answer. The RSS did not lose a minute to give up on someone like L K Adani after he former deputy prime minister’s Jinnah remark in Pakistan. Support of the world’s largest socio-cultural organization, as it calls itself, is of crucial importance.
Aside Home Minister Amit Shah who has helped BJP become an election winning machine, there doesn’t seem many who would be in a position to challenge him though, if at all Yogi Adityanath decides to be the contender to India’s top throne. The other leader who could be contention is the Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma who has shown administrative skills, striking a chord with the masses and strong Hindutva advocacy despite coming from the Congress stable.
While the saffron leader has been able to successfully cobble caste alliances of not only the upper castes but also of Dalits and other weaker castes. whether he will be able to lead a social engineering at the national level, in ways similar to Modi, rendering the en bloc voting of Muslims no longer useful as king maker in the Indian polity is to be seen.
We know his views on Islamic terrorism but India faces insurgencies of various hues.
We are also yet to know his economic vision, his foreign policy thoughts and overall vision of growth for India. The nation still is not clear about his Idea of India. If at all he nurtures the dream to occupy the top post, he will have to present his version and his own articulation on such matters. Diplomacy, geo-strategy and political-economy are nuanced subjects that require depth and foresight with long term national interest. The monk in saffron robes needs to enter into a dialogue and create public consensus on such matters.
Modi created the brand of ‘Gujarat model’ under him to package his vision of an India under his leadership, to trounce and overwhelm the then national leaders within BJP including ambitious stalwarts like Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and contemporaries like Arun Jaitly, Venkaiah Naidu and Sushma Swaraj.
He has five years to build the brand of ‘UP Model’ and newer version Yogi Adityanath 2.0.
By RAHUL KASHYAP
(The writer is India’s noted Public Affairs and International Relations expert.)