Lotus pose: On Yogi Adityanath and BJP’s pan-India ambitions

Yogi Adityanath is now central to the BJP's political ambitions for the whole country

March 28, 2022 12:10 am | Updated 09:55 am IST

Yogi Adityanath has become the first Chief Minister in Uttar Pradesh to be sworn in for a second successive term after having completed a full five-year term. Among the 52 others who took oath with Mr. Adityanath on March 25 were Keshav Prasad Maurya and Brajesh Pathak who are deputy Chief Ministers. The composition of the Council of Ministers signifies the continuing efforts of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to balance the claims of various caste groups within the Hindutva umbrella. Several new faces have been added and several others dropped, to infuse the new Ministry with fresh energy and optics. As many as 22 Ministers from the previous term were removed, of whom 11 had lost the elections. Upper castes have got a lion’s share of the berths — 21 of the 52, with the Brahmins and Rajputs in particular, who got seven each. These communities rallied behind the BJP like never before in 2022, forming the core of the party’s social base. Non-Yadav OBCs that largely stayed with BJP have also been rewarded, though to a lesser extent. Dalit support for the BJP has been acknowledged, with nine of them making it to the Council. The BJP has finally made a serious attempt at wooing the Muslim vote bank by including Danish Azad Ansari, a Pasmanda or backward Muslim. Rising through the ranks of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, he has been working on the ground to create a connection between Muslims and the BJP.

The BJP hopes that the distribution of power among various social groups effected through the Council’s composition will stand it in good stead ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election. The criticality of U.P. in its national plan cannot be overstated — it contributes 20% of the party’s current strength in the Lok Sabha. The party will do everything to keep its U.P. house in order. The central leadership of the BJP had a significant say in the selection of Ministers, but a balancing has been sought with the Chief Minister’s views. Mr. Adityanath has emerged as a leader of his own standing through his first term and this election victory. Controversial as it is, his aggressive style and steamrolling administrative tactics have won him tremendous popularity. He has become a new icon of BJP politics. For good reasons, the 49-year-old is being seen as a potential successor to Mr. Modi who is 71. He is likely to fashion his second term with that view firmly in mind. India’s most populous State is also a severely underdeveloped one. His governance in U.P. can influence the course of the country. Mr. Adityanath’s second term in U.P. will, therefore, be watched beyond the State, and around the world.

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