Yogi Aditynath UP CM: Rise of phoenix of hardline Hindutva from the ashes of pseudo-secularism
By appointing Yogi Adityanath as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Narendra Modi has made his third disruptive move after surgical strike and demonetisation. So immediate and deep has been the impact that it has annihilated in one stroke all codified cleavages, and redrawn India’s ideological map. The Left, Right and Centrist Venn diagrams are now in disarray. The entire Indian political spectrum, as the current Mahant of Gorakhnath Temple took oath on Sunday, resembled a smoking battleground strewn with the debris of conflicting positions.
Leave alone the regressive Alt-Left which has greeted Adityanath’s elevation with customary cries of Apocalypse, Adityanath’s ascension has spooked centrists and the moderate Right alike, leaving those on the right of Right to justify why Modi’s move makes immense political sense and is entirely in line with the logical progression of ‘new BJP’.
Among the ideological Right, a rift has risen overnight, with one side interpreting Modi’s choice as a “betrayal” and the other accusing it of falling into the elitist trap and disregarding the voice of people. I shall explain presently why this “voice of people” argument is misleading.
A large section of liberal Indians disgusted with the pseudo-secularism of India’s political discourse and sickened with naked minorityism in the name of secularism, had seen in Modi-led BJP a refreshing perspective where Indians, regardless of their caste and community fault lines, were co-opted as active participants in the nation-building process.
As the prime minister went about his job putting in place the building blocks for a new India, they saw in Modi a strong, therapeutic leader determined to cleanse the country of Congress-led “appeasement culture” that had fatally afflicted Indian politics. The toilets that were built, bank accounts that were opened, gas connections that were installed, insurance schemes and easy loans that were disbursed did not discriminate between Hindus, Muslims or Christians. Modi did not need to wear a skull cap to project himself as “secular”, his slogan for “sabka saath, sabka vikas” resonated enough.
MJ Akbar wrote in The Times of India:
“Above all, they (Opposition) cannot understand how Muslims have voted for Narendra Modi. BJP won 104 constituencies with a substantial Muslim presence; it could not have done so without getting some Muslim votes.”
It is now clear that many pundits miserably misread the verdict. Where they saw a mandate for greater inclusiveness, ‘new BJP’ under Modi saw the signal for unabashed Hindu consolidation. By choosing a rabid hardliner for the UP top job, Modi and Shah are moving towards a post-Ram Janmabhoomi Hindu integration, that they hope may override all caste creases in the most crucial state of Hindi heartland.
This is not a knee-jerk, reactionary step. It is a calculated decision aimed at reinforcing BJP’s grip in a state where they have been out of power for 15 years. As a man on top of his game and in full command of the party’s power structure, Modi is obviously well within his rights to strategise and chart BJP’s path. But where it seems like a betrayal is that a volatile polariser like Yogi Adityanath was installed at helm after Modi fought and won the election on an exclusive development agenda. The primary question here is moral, not political.
Had the UP mandate been the result of a Hindutva agenda, Adityanath’s appointment would have been interpreted as a natural, obvious step. But the referendum was on Modi and his ‘vikas’ agenda, not the five-time Gorakhpur MP’s politics. Hence, criticisms against him cannot be termed as a “disrespect of people’s verdict”. What this about-turn does is that it strips BJP and Modi of the moral hallow that it enjoyed in the post-Congress world of pseudo-secularism.
Source: Daily Hunt