It is, admittedly, unfair to make quality assessments on an entity before it gets down to business. It is also impossible not to permit track-records and history to influence such assessments. The elevation of the ever-controversial Yogi Adityanath is a clear signal that the BJP, under the Modi-Shah leadership, has cynically opted to further the divisive politics that propelled it to an overwhelming majority in the recent elections in UP. The five-times Lok Sabha MP from Gorakhpur has always been a powerful force in the state, but even insiders are amazed at the turn of events that saw him quash the purported administrative abilities of others initially in the race. The only conclusion being that “development” and “good governance” which the BJP had sought to project as election planks were overtaken by the undercurrent of religious consolidation that had worked a mini-miracle at the polls. And the Hindutva firebrand was the man chosen to cement the “all Hindu” appeal, with an obvious eye on the parliamentary polls two years down the road. The Yogi’s upgrade was the culmination of the process that did not issue a single “ticket” to a Muslim candidate: the political logic being that since the minority community did not vote in favour of the party, it did not merit anyone contesting on the Lotus symbol. A ground reality that will hardly be impacted by one Muslim bring accommodated in the ministerial council that was sworn in in Lucknow on Sunday.
To be fair to Yogi Adityanath, he has never made hypocritical pretence to being “secular”, and has ever relished his role as a showboy of Hindutva (not to be confused with Hinduism), and provocative comments about Muslims best relocating to Pakistan, etc., have seldom embarrassed him and his flock. Hence the apprehension in some quarters, that despite having a pair of “deputies” to inject a degree of balance, the communal pot will be kept simmering all through his tenure as chief minister. To fall back on the clichéd adage about a leopard not changing its spots, few political analysts expect a change in Yogi Adityanath’s thinking now that he has assumed administrative responsibilities. While double-speak is not a crime of which he can be accused, it would be pertinent to ask how his being the “chosen one” matches up with the sentiments that the Prime Minister had articulated from the victory podium at the BJP headquarters. Mr Narendra Modi has clearly accorded higher priority to winning elections than injecting “inclusiveness” into his style of administration. Just one sobering after-thought: Among the first persons to be taken to task by the Election Commission for intemperate comments during the recent campaign is the man the “national” leadership has just anointed in Lucknow.