Uttar Pradesh’s very own Donald Trump is set to take over as the state’s chief minister. Yogi Adityanath has no qualms about speaking the truth. He tells things as he sees them. He has been the media’s favorite punching bag, the bête noire of the pseudo-liberal establishment of India. This is because he has never shied away from taking up the plight of India’s majority community which is often treated as second-class citizens, and calling out certain elements of the minority community whenever their shenanigans go out of hand.
This move by the BJP has taken most people by surprise. Nobody believed the Gujarati duo at the helm of affairs had it in them to install a figure like Yogi Adityanath on the chief minister’s chair. Public memory is short, the surgical strikes and demonetization are testaments of the guts the current regime has displayed at regular intervals. The BJP perhaps realizes that those crying foul over their every move is an elite minority. Moreover, it realizes that its politics hinges not only on the pillar of development but on the pillar of nationalism too. In the Indian context, nationalism isn’t restricted to a contractual obligation, but is perceived through the civilizational, cultural and religious prism as well.
The question many neutral observers ask after Yogi Adityanath’s appointment is whether it is fair to install a firebrand leader in the chief minister’s office because he appeals to our sense of civilizational nationalism, instead of offering the office to a clean and competent administrator. Till the last moment, the media which unlike three years back had no clue about what was happening behind closed doors, speculated that Manoj Sinha would be the state’s next chief minister. Sinha fitted the aforementioned credentials. Honest, non-controversial, suave, down to earth and highly effective, Sinha had been successfully running the telecom ministry as well as some of the railway ministry’s key functions.
Of course, this argument stands only if one can prove for a fact that Yogi Adityanath possesses none of these credentials. Being a five-term member of parliament, his track record is for all to see. In time, his sphere of influence extended much beyond his constituency of Gorakhpur, and covered large tracts of eastern Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh has been communally volatile, and especially so during the Akhilesh Yadav regime. But eastern Uttar Pradesh has remained largely free from such unrest. Despite the hundreds of communal incidents, the state witnessed, only the most dastardly ones made it to the headlines. Among them were the Muzaffarnagar riots and the Kairana exodus. Both occurred in western Uttar Pradesh. It is common knowledge that Yogi Adityanath has kept belligerent elements in check across the eastern part of the state.
This argument too can be refuted easily. It can be said that the BJP has chosen a chief minister who will run the state with an iron fist, but that’s about it. The only problem with notions such as these is that they have been instilled in most people by the mainstream media, which has chosen to focus only on certain aspects of Yogi Adityanath. The fact of the matter is that he has been a go-getter member of parliament. For several years, he faced hostile governments both at the central and the state levels. Discrimination against his constituency, which is one of the most backward and poor, continued. Despite spending most of the funds allotted to his constituency, the big-ticket development arrived only after the emergence of Modi. Yogi Adityanath successfully lobbied for a branch of AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) to be set up in his constituency. In July, last year, the state-of-the-art 700 bed facility was inaugurated by the prime minister himself. A defunct fertilizer plant which generated thousands of jobs in the region was also revived by the central government, with the parliamentarian playing a key role. Yogi Adityanth has also ensured several national highway projects come the way of his constituency. A slew of projects worth thousands of crores generating huge employment and connecting this remote constituency to the rest of the country, have also been undertaken.
Yogi Adityanth became the youngest member of parliament in the twelfth lok sabha, at the age of twenty-six. Ever since, he won every election that came his way.
Active in parliament, his participation in discussions and question-answer sessions have increased from term to term. So, have his margins of victory, the fifth one being a record three-hundred and twelve thousand votes. The extent of confidence his constituents bestow upon him time and time again is a testament of his capacities. It’s only a matter of time before the Gorakhpur model of development, security and pride is replicated across the country’s largest state.