UP’s development, not Ram Mandir politics, will be the Adityanath govt’s priority.
CM Yogi’s sole agenda is growth
No party that gained a massive mandate will try to fritter away the gain. To say that by electing Adityanath Yogi the BJP has abandoned its development plank is absurd. There is no contradiction between being Hindu and being development-oriented. A patriotic, clean and idealist leader is best suited to usher an era of prosperity. In electing Mr Adityanath the BJP has ensured this.
Did Prime Minister Narendra Modi mean this or something very different when on March 12 he defined the big Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand BJP victories as laying the cornerstone of a new India? Critics are out saying Mr Modi misled or people misread his words as Mr Adityanath cannot fit the bill as the usherer of a modern UP. But is this the way people in UP see the new chief minister?
It is significant that by electing Mr Adityanath the BJP has sent out a clear message. That it means business. That it will not be business as usual. UP voted for change and Mr Adityanath personifies that change.
To appreciate this one has to understand the massive mandate the BJP got. It is the highest ever for any political party in the state’s history. The BJP won it on the agenda of development. No emotive slogan, no backdrop of violence and no appeal on communal or caste lines. Even the most consummate critic of the BJP brand of politics has admitted this. And the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance and the Bahujan Samaj Party openly fought the election appealing to voters on caste and communal lines. Their distribution of tickets, propaganda and manifesto did not make any disclaimer in this regard. Their claim was that the BJP was trying to consolidate the majority community.
The Prime Minister and party chief Amit Shah did campaign pointing out the appeasement politics of rival parties and promising “Sab ka saath, sab ka vikas”. And people voted en masse.
What were the issues in the poll? The first undoubtedly was the issue of safety and security for people, specially for women. The second was restoration of law and order. The re-establishment of people’s faith in the local thanas. Extortion and crime was at its peak under SP rule. There was no safety for trade and business in the state. The fourth major worry was corruption, that had become a way of life. The next major concern was the total absence of modern amenities of civic life — bijli, sadak, paani and makaan in most parts of the state.
UP did not vote or ask for a routine regime change. It had to be decisive, strong and aspirational. Critics have nothing to say against Mr Adityanath other than that he is a strong Hindu, he speaks strongly against terrorism, communal appeasement and that he wears saffron. Is there any instance of his acting against any community? Minority institutions flourish in the areas of his influence in eastern UP. Criticising terror or violence or promising safety of women cannot be termed anti-Muslim. His elevation has been hailed by Muslim institutions like that of Syed Ahmed (he owns educational institutions) by issuing full-page ads in newspapers and the media in UP have largely welcomed his selection. The BJP has played the right note by making Mr Adityanath the face of a resurgent, transforming UP.
The writer is a senior journalist and political analyst
Temple will be BJP’s key focus in UP
The Uttar Pradesh election was a case of Hindu consolidation for Narendra Modi. In a state that has voted along caste and community lines for a long time, the best way to defeat caste-wise divisions was the overarching identity of religion. The RSS and BJP worked on this for long; in Mr Modi’s image they got an ideal figure for this. The Prime Minister’s strong Hindu leader image, and the folklore of development built around him cemented this consolidation.
The development folklore around Mr Modi interestingly goes on in spite of all evidence that Mr Modi’s efforts in Gujarat in no way accelerated development or growth in that state, and the few achievements he showcases in any case are similar to what other chief ministers in their ways have done in their states. Though here we must credit Mr Modi and his bandwagon in creating the myth of a doddering Gujarat reaching its glories only due to him, and thus the legend of his extraordinary abilities. Similarly, at the national level, ordinary public welfare programmes are projected as revolutionary, and in the stronger subtext of “finally a Hindu leader”, these are swallowed.
This is the tale that was spun in UP much more successfully and succinctly than in many other states. That a voting population that has had little to do with development politics, having voted out decent governments in the past, and elected crooks, castiest and communal leaders without blinking an eyelid, suddenly starts praying to a development “messiah” is the myth of this election.
Development has mostly been a veneer over which much else is pushed in. The formula and the strategy were clear. Communalise, and appeal on people’s communal prejudices like never before, mix it with the illusion of a glorious after-poll life, crush the government with stories on its misrule juxtaposed against the propaganda of Ram rajya, and voila — the election is all but over.
The agenda, therefore, for Adityanath Yogi, who represents the faces that led such a strategy even more forcefully than
Mr Modi, will be to make sure than this remains a poll-winning formula and the government becomes a vehicle for propagating these myths. Development, in any case, as seen by many today, with much more financial sustainability of the government will keep happening, to a lesser or larger extent. There are funds, there is a private investment-friendly PPP solution to every infrastructure challenge, many ways to a subsidy-based public provisioning system as an attractive vote-catching strategy, and now widely welcomed enclaves of prosperity for the endowed, that reward capital owning classes and act as dreams in the illusory world of “development agenda” in politics for others. In any case, development neither makes you win elections, nor does it make any fundamental changes in people’s psyche and social and political frameworks.
So development will happen in UP. It has happened in the past, though somewhat grudgingly. It will happen again.
But it will be the Yogi, under the glaring eye of Mr Modi, who shall decide what their Ram Mandir shall be. These are all pawns in their game, and they shall decide how and when to use such emotive issues in a mix with hyped development achievements to keep winning people’s minds and hearts. And while the minds keep getting number and dumber, the hearts will be focused on.
The writer is a national spokesman of the Congress