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Yogi factor is evolving across India

In these election campaigning time, the UP CM is the most demanding leader after PM Modi

he emergence of crucial signs for future politics of  saffron-clad Hindutva leader

Sharad Singh

You may agree or disagree, but the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s popularity is soaring across the country in these election days. In his second innings as UP CM Yogi Adityanath is emerging out of his previous image into a more robust and also inclusive administrator. There is a Sutra in Sanskrit – Yogkshema. It essentially means achieving something and preserving what’s been achieved. The Sutra of Yogkshema reflects Yogi’s current avatar in not only Uttar Pradesh but nation’s politics, it seems. In election campaigning time, he is the most sought after saffron leader after PM Modi, echoing the popular belief that the Yogi is the fast emerging poster boy of Hindutva in surcharged polarizing political horizon.

Propelled by his image as the nemesis of the mafia and riot-mongers, an unstoppable “good governance” mascot and a Hindutva leader who has matured in the quest to take everyone along, Goraksha Peeth Mahant is a firm favourite on the Lok Sabha campaign trail both in and outside the UP this poll season, clocking over 50 election meetings in a fortnight with many more to come.

Besides addressing numerous meetings in Uttar Pradesh, he has toured Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir in a week. He will campaign in Uttarakhand constituencies again on Sunday and is set to visit Bihar early next week.
Establishing a strong people-connect at every election meeting, he shuffles the issues by raising the points linked to the populace and highlighting achievements of the double-engine BJP governments led by Modi at the Centre and Yogi in the state.

As Yogi builds narratives within the BJP’s poll narratives, his style has worked well to the party’s advantage both in the 2019 Lok Sabha and the 2022 U.P. assembly polls. With the party campaigning for ‘Abki Baar, 400 Paar’ and ‘Teesri Baar, Modi Sarkar’ in 2024 Lok Sabha polls, the Yogi model, being followed by BJP governments in some states, may evolve further to take the centre stage.

Till 2017, as head of Gorakhnath Peeth, Mahant Yogi Adityanath cultivated the image of a hardline Hindutva leader and he is not shying away from flaunting it now.

With his government known for strong action against the mafia and attracting large investment to Uttar Pradesh, he highlights such achievements outside the state too.

On Friday, April 19,  addressing a public meeting organised in Gajraula city of the Amroha Lok Sabha constituency in UP, Yogi Adityanath said, ‘Changes happening in the country under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi are remarkable and unprecedented. This transformation has become a subject of curiosity and wonder for the world, During the partition of the country in 1947, Pakistan had more territory but less population, while now it has a population of around 23 to 24 crore, yet many people there struggle to get food. Meanwhile, under the leadership of PM Modi, 80 crore people of India have been receiving free ration for the past 4 years.”

He further added, ”Now, to move forward as a developed India, a self-reliant India, and a global leader, it is important to participate in the festival of democracy, ensuring that the Modi government is entrusted with the leadership of the country for the third time.”

Earlier, Yogi addressed a public meeting at Haldwani, instantly connecting with the people as he referred to Congress leaders with roots in the hill state who served as chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh. In his connection, he named U.P’s first chief minister Govind Ballabh Pant and leaders like Narayan Dutt Tiwari and Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna, who were born in present-day Uttarakhand and gave leadership to the undivided Uttar Pradesh as the chief ministers of Congress-led governments.

Addressing a public meeting in Bharatpur district of Rajasthan on April 7, he said the Congress government served biryani to the terrorists, while at Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir on April 10, he said the grand old party played with the sentiments of the people with regard to the Sanatana Dharma.

At Wardha in Maharashtra on April 8, he brought the killings of two saints in Palghar to the fore while targeting the then Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena government. Strict action would have been taken against the perpetrators if such an incident had taken place in Uttar Pradesh, he emphasised.

“Yes, Yogi Adityanath is a major factor not only in Uttar Pradesh but also outside the state.

This is mainly because of his attempts to focus on awakening Hindu consciousness, his security model and his following as the leader of Nath Panth,” said Abhinit Kumar, a renowned psephologist. “After assuming office as chief minister, Yogi has shown maturity in politics. He has proved his mettle and the Yogi model of governance has become popular across the country,” said Professor Ashutosh Mishra, former head of department political science, Lucknow University.

When the BJP returned to power in UP last year, the responsibility to run the state was again given to Yogi Adityanath. This was also because the BJP did not have anyone in the state who had a bigger stature than Yogi. Second, the credit for the victory has not only gone to Prime Minister Narendra Modi; Yogi Adityanath has also played a crucial role in it.

Experts say if a government has returned to power in UP after 35 years, Yogi’s strong image was also one of the factors. The BJP has benefitted in UP in two ways. The benefits of PM Modi’s social welfare schemes have been creating a new, significant and decisive vote bank. This voter base cannot be tied to any particular caste or ideology. Arvind Kejriwal, Naveen Patnaik and Nitish Kumar have been able to do this experiment in Delhi, Odisha and Bihar. And they have benefitted from it. In last year assembly elections, Akhilesh Yadav’s poll promises were not weak, compared to the BJP’s.

Here, the BJP benefitted from Yogi’s personal image. If a Muslim tailor from Mainpuri says he used to shut shop at 7 pm, but now he can keep it open till 9 pm, this is significant, and a reason enough to understand people’s attraction towards Yogi’s image.

Yogi has emerged as a decisive and disciplined administrator. He adopted Modi’s governance model and kept the administration and governance centralised. Some ministers and MLAs suffered because of this, but a clear-mandate government did not suffer the losses that Akhilesh’s government did. Akhilesh was a good administrator, but he could not free himself from the curse of indecisiveness and an image of five chief ministers.

UP voters liked the Modi-Yogi combination. The Modi-Yogi photograph, which came right before the election, went under many political scanners, but the photo left an impact among ordinary people. That’s why this combination emerged victorious from indecisive poll calculations. Same phenomenon is still working in ongoing Lok Sabha polls making Modi-Yogi combination invincible.

Yogi appears to be in a new avatar. He is emerging out of his previous image into a politician who is not only decisive and disciplined but also accommodative. He is trying to create new constituencies of popularity, beyond those built only around the image.

From washing the feet of little girls during Kanya Pujan, CM Yogi was seen allowing kids and adults to take selfies with him. He is now sparing more time at the BJP office in Lucknow than the previous tenure. He was also seen sharing a ride with his Deputy CM. Essentially, all this is an extension to his previously crafted image.

Yogi is accessible to people, he adores children, takes the party and ministers along. He finds time for the organisation, listens to party workers and wants to strengthen the party. And the bigger message is: Yogi is Hindutvawadi, wears saffron but will forgive no one in law and order matters. Though bulldozers are not a good symbol in democracy, the machine is also being used more to build a tough image.

But why is Yogi doing this? Actually, the seeds of future politics are hidden in his new avatar. One person’s toughness makes the other look liberal. This happened with Modi and Advani, and Advani and Vajpayee. But toughness alone cannot help one move beyond the present.

Another simple but crucial aspect: only religion cannot drive the politics of power. People want their daily lives improved through good administration. Yogi has been able to build an image of a no-nonsense politician. But being inclusive and sensitive makes his image easier for people; it brings ease, care and trust and not just the strict ruler.

At this stage, Yogi is a bright, young star of the BJP. No doubt, the RSS and the BJP see massive possibilities in Yogi. These possibilities also hold the face of future politics and the ideological master plan of the Sangh and the country. The world is changing rapidly. Politics and people’s issues will also change. So will political roles and responsibilities. Yogi’s image expansion is making him more conducive for the future. Yogi also has challenges. But one can advance in politics by evolving. Yogi has the signs. With his Raj Dharma, he is marching to the future.



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