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Modi and Yogi – Mid Term Update

Modi has changed gears! His government is now halfway through the term and he is still going strong. And just when you thought that he would relax and bask in the glory of the UP victory, validating his most ambitious move, DeMonetization, take a break from the relentless media scrutiny, he and Amit Shah announce Yogi Adityanath, the saffron clad, temple head of GorakhNath temple from the UP heartland as the head of their government in UP, the most tricky and historically important state of India. Lutyens Media Mafia was in a meltdown. They had got a rude shock of a BJP sweep just a few days, and now this bomb.

They were clueless. So clueless that they started asking opinions for taxi drivers and imaginary entrepreneurs on why Yogi? Next they took to twitter and asking for insiders on why BJP chose Yogi?

I am no expert on UP ground politics, just like I was not on US, but then you could see it coming. Hindus voted for a change and it was not just for development. The stories coming out of UP under the SP government were of Hindus living a nightmare – women not safe, cops indifferent. I rememberer talking to my friend in Goa and discussing the contrast of political climate between a state like Goa and UP. In Goa, who ever wins Congress or BJP, it not like matter of life and death unlike in UP.

So why Yogi?

Modi campaigns any election on 3 mains points.

1. Development
2. Pro Poor
3. Hindutva

He has been very vociferous on the first 2 and kinda let the 3 one be off the radar since he took over prior to the 2014 Lok Sabha campaign.

In his first two years, he has gone all in with the first two. Make in India, NHAI is doing good. Railway Ministry has been given a new life, Power ministries if lighting the dark parts of India that didn’t see electricity for 75 years since Independence. Foreign Ministry is doing a great. So great that, you can get in touch with the Foreign Minister using a tweet. Diesel subsidy was removed. On the Pro Poor front, he rolled out life and accident insurance for all. LPG gas connection for poor women. Funny thing is the we are a poor country and yet in 70 years of our history no one thought of getting these basics right. Swachh Bharat is pro poor initiative. DeMonetisation is a fight on corruption. He gave a relief to the middle class by halving the income tax rate from 10% to 5%. He is trying to push housing in tier 2 cities with lesser interest rates. He has been relentless with the message that his govt is a clean govt, working for poor and hardworking class and building a developed India.

So why Yogi. My best guess is that, it was time to reassure the core of BJP voters that they have not abandoned the Hindutva plank. And nothing says Hindutva than a saffron clad Yogi. And its not that Yogi is nobody. He is the most popular leader in UP. Infact, he was next only to Modi in the campaign plan. He has been 5 time MP from Gorakhpur. And he has hit the ground running. Banning illegal slaughterhouses, starting anti-romeo squads, banning the red beacon on govt cars. But you may ask – what about the moderates supporters of BJP living in cities across India? I think they will not be too alarmed with this choice. They care too much about first 2 points.

I think Modi and Amit Shah have identified Yogi as someone with potential. I believe that BJP is the only party that starts to groom next generation of leaders. Classic example is the TN where after Amma, it was a free for all. The next roster of BJP leaders will include Fadnavis, Smriti and now Yogi. I thought Parrikar was close, but he just didn’t want to go beyond Goa. The other leaders like Gadkari, Piyush, Suresh Prabhu are implementors who can get things done rather than generate mass public support. Who knows what kind of India will emerge in the next decade. But know matter how India evolves, BJP will have the horse no matter what the course India charts – the very likable Devendra Fadnavis, the feisty Smriti with a bit more of experience and the pure Hindu Hero Yogi Adityanath. Modi could have played safe by picking the BJP head Keshav Maurya but he chose not to. He wants to remind India that this is BJP. And if ever there was a verdict to push for Yogi than this was it. In this one move he and Amit Shah have squashed any narrative that BJP was becoming soft on Hindutva. And there is no other place to do this than India’s heartland, UP.

Yes, Modi has changed gears. But India, nothing is guaranteed. We remember the fall of BJP in 2004 all too well. BJP must not be complacent. 2019 will be BJP against all the rest. And the fight will only get dirtier.


Categorised as: Opinion


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