The importance of being Yogi Adityanath

A file photo of Yogi Adityanath.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Six faces find a place on the BJP’s hoardings in Uttar Pradesh — Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah, Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Uma Bharti and Kalraj Mishra and party MP Keshub Maurya.

Five-time MP from Gorakhpur Yogi Adityanath, whose aggressive campaigning style is in sync with that of his leadership, is not among them. BJP sources say the Yogi, whose supporters were pushing for him to be named as the party’s chief ministerial face, has never found favour with Mr. Modi or Mr. Shah.

But in these elections, the BJP leadership for the first time deployed the Yogi extensively in western U.P. after the first phase. His high octane speeches that took in all the favourite Hindutva themes have had its impact, as this correspondent discovered while travelling last month in the Muslim-dominated Moradabad-Amroha belt.

Awaidhnath, Mahant of the powerful and wealthy Gorakhnath Temple who had won Gorakhpur thrice consecutively, passed on both his political and religious legacy to Yogi Adityanath. The latter’s brand of muscular Hindutva is now casting a shadow over the politics of neighbouring districts in eastern Uttar Pradesh as well.

The Yogi heads the Hindu Yuva Vahini, a Bajrang Dal style outfit, which has been known in the past to bring the city to a violent halt. Not surprisingly, his confrontational style has been a cause of trouble for successive administrations in Gorakhpur.

In person, the Yogi does not seem aggressive. “I’m not in the party for any post,” he says when asked whether the BJP had given him his due. “The BJP has no shortage of political faces. At the appropriate moment, the BJP will take a decision.”

Supporting the Prime Minister’s controversial statement on graveyards, he says: “Eighty per cent of our population are Hindus. Despite that, ₹600 crore was spent on cremation grounds and ₹1300 crores for Muslim graveyards.” When pressed further, he smoothly shifts gear. “Our priority should be roads, electricity, clean drinking water, health facilities, teachers in schools, not qabristan (graveyard).”

When reminded that Mr. Modi’s statement that more electricity was given on Ramzan than on Diwali is not borne out by facts, he says: “Yes 1300 MW was given on Ramzan and 1500 MW on Diwali. But on the basis of population, Hindus should get four times as much, not just a little more.”

As a religious leader, should he be in politics? “In Hindu spiritual thinking, there are two streams — pravriti [engaged in action] and nivriti [when you retire from action]…,” he says. “They seem different, but their goal is the same. We have adopted politics to achieve our goals, but have not adopted politics for a post or fame.

“Ours is a missionary approach. I am just a yogi.”

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 12:55:33 PM |

Next Story