Monday, March 20, 2017

Yogi Adityanath, the surprise and no surprise



Ratnakar Tripathy

Ever since Yogi Adityanath was named the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, there has been little else in the media but the Yogi, now turned into a full-blown mainstream politician, no longer seen as fringe but the ruler of the largest Indian state. One would have expected that after BJP’s smashing victory in UP, we had already been through the climax of the story. But then our PM likes to pile the shocks one on top of the other. If you thought the Yogi is the last straw, just wait. Modi’s style seems to be to gamble for all or nothing and the recent UP elections seem to have reassured him that he can get away with absolutely anything. The question is can he? Looking at the stupid and submissive grin on Mulayam’s face during the oath-taking ceremony and his sycophantic demeanour in the company of Modi seemed disgusting enough. His insistence on whispering some sweet nothings in Modi’s ear did earn Akhilesh a friendly pat from the PM, but Yogi Adityanath is likely to be unsparing with Mulayam’s endless row of goons in the coming days. While the rest of the world may be busy analyzing Modi’s strengths, I keep myself busy dissecting the weaknesses of his adversaries. In this particular case, it is well-known that Mulayam’s UP was not a safe place to be and despite Akhilesh’s developmental thrust, he couldn’t really get rid of his father’s bully boys at all or even restrain them minimally.      

In politics even if you feel lost and any kind of conclusions seem to evade your reach, one has to keep sufficient sanity to stay away from rash and dangerous inferences. My most dangerous inference of the week was a series of blatant and rather firm conclusion seen to be emerging from UP in the most lucid way – that the UP voter has turned communal and that the mandate clearly shows this. I do not understand how people come to such facilely grand conclusion. The clarity with which they see this happen is very scary. For one thing it implies inaction, quietude and resignation as if the future has been redefined in stone. There are of course those who argue that the Yogi is an unknown factor despite the raging flames shooting through his speeches. Such people can wait, indeed wait forever and hope to see their hopes charred in the fierce heat. But I do agree with all the commentators that the choice of Adityanath was a big surprise. Why not a mellower candidate suited to the requirements of the 2019 parliamentary elections?

There could be two opposing and yet not entirely opposing theories  on this. They are to be seen as pure speculation, as I do not pretend to be a clairvoyant. First, the idea is to tame the firebrands by coopting them within the saner fold. Or to make them somewhat docile. This is the sensible sort of kite flying and should be given a chance. Second, the plan may be not to tame Adityanath so much as to use his untamed prowess to reduce Mulayam and Akhilesh as well as Mayawati to pulp through legal and political processes and perhaps even split the state into five parts, which would be the counted as the greatest contribution of BJP thus far.  UP can be a very irritating factor in the life of a politician aiming as high as Modi quite simply because of its size. You may run all over the place in India winning battles on all the fronts and a ‘no’ from UP can bring you down in one fell swoop.


Part of Modi’s bold style of politics and policy that the voter of today is enamoured of lies in his urge to gamble in a big way. Like a gambler worth his salt he raises the stakes when on a winning spree. The real question is will this spree continue all the way up to 2019? Or do we really have to wait that long to see the balloon deflate? The voter in turn too, remember is in a mood to keep up the gamble and is waiting to see the full outcome of her verdict. How patient the common man is and how recklessly blunderous Modi will get in the coming months is the real dialectic at work here. All I can see is that some more nasty surprises are awaiting us round the corner. 

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