Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath | Nand Kumar | PTI File Photo

What makes Yogi Adityanath the role model for other BJP CMs? That was my column, Politically Correct, on Monday, which stirred some outrage as any hard facts seem to do these days. Of the hundreds of angry reactions — “eulogy to a ruthless Fascist”, “normalising bigots”, “fake news”, “paid job” and so on and so forth — my favourite was “Thuuuuuu (without reading)”.

Consider some facts.

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1.   Karnataka CM B.S. Yediyurappa sends his animal husbandry minister to Lucknow to learn about UP’s anti-cow slaughter law.

2.   MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan sends an emissary, assembly protem speaker, to learn about UP’s law against inter-faith marriage.

3.   A day after UP CM declares his intention to bring the so-called ‘anti-love jihad’ law, his Haryana counterpart, Manohar Lal Khattar, takes a cue and declares the same.

4.   Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani instructs police officials to follow the UP model of recovering compensation for damages to properties by anti-CAA protesters.

The conclusion in my #PoliticallyCorrect column, therefore, was absolutely correct on facts. I can understand some people didn’t like these. They can’t challenge or change the facts. So they would rather intimidate me not to speak the truth. It won’t work. Because people more vicious and powerful have tried this with me before. I keep my essential learning as a political journalist — that my voting preferences do not determine my facts or my analysis. It’s worked for me brilliantly. As also for the wonderful institutions I have worked for over these 24 newsy years.

Social media hectoring as a tactic and pastime has been in vogue for some time now. What was, however, noteworthy in this particular case was the explosion of anger ostensibly by a section of PM Narendra Modi’s critics. It is perfectly legitimate for people to be Modi critics. But, for some reason, as a JNU alumnus, one could almost hear “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh” — what once used to be the war cry on Jawaharlal Nehru University campus in New Delhi — resonating in the Twitter universe. I am, however, cautious not to paint my critics with any ideological brush. Critics have to be heard and respected. Not to be terrified of.

In the old days, such cries would invariably drown the faint slogans of ‘mandir wahin banayenge’. Times have changed. Mandir is coming up, sanctified by the Supreme Court. Can any slogan or anger change that fact? Does it matter whether you and I like it or not?

Realities of life outside the campus have forced even many of those warriors to make peace or collaborate with once sworn enemies — ‘capitalists’ and ‘neo-imperialist forces.’ Many, of course, are helping the Modi government as IAS/IPS/IFS officers.


Also read: What makes Yogi Adityanath a role model for other BJP CMs


What to expect from BJP CMs

So, what was it in the column that sent some people over the edge? It wasn’t obviously out of a sense of betrayal by BJP chief ministers who are making Yogi Adityanath their role model. It’s their party, ideology and politics. Was it because the Uttar Pradesh CM has become the BJP’s second most sought-after campaigner despite a history of police encounters, this terrible ‘love jihad’ law and the use of UAPA and National Security Act in the state? All of that is an issue. But the BJP and its candidates still get to choose who should be their star campaigner after Modi.

I guess that may not be the reason for them to be upset about. Not so, because I doubt their wisdom or comprehension. Just that it would apply if only they had read the article. But now, some of the intellectual discourse in these fraught times is a case of shoot first, ask questions later. Just like Yogi’s police often do, no?

Many figured it and we can see the wasted exhortations of a few who sought to reason with somebody who has risen to particular eminence on Twitterverse: “Aunty pehle pdh toh lo article.” But that’s a huge ask.

Blame Twitter for influencing our reading habits. It increased the tweet limit from 140 to 280 characters but not many have taken kindly to this. By the way, that is what inspired our much talked about innovation of the #50WordEdit.

But the attention span is still limited to 140 characters, or even less. Headline is, therefore, the key. But that too, you can choose to read from right to left or left to right and miss whatever you find inconvenient in the middle.

This underlines the challenge of political reporters and analysts today: How to explain facts and nuances in a headline, and then idiot-proof it. The previous column (again without being read) might have drawn a contrary response if I had only added one word in the headline: ‘only’. So, if it was like: What makes Yogi Adityanath a role model ONLY for other BJP CMs. This is like reminding people to laugh after you tell them a joke that they were too distracted to pay attention to.

That is how it seems from the reactions of a section of these Modi-Yogi critics. Remember Cameron Diaz asking Tom Cruise in Knight and Day: With Me, Without Me? Cruise knew the answer in the movie. A political reporter or analyst may not, and must not.


Also read: Humble headline? No, it’s a weapon for media, Facebook, Google, your WhatsApp group


Outrage, why be confused by facts

As it is, there is an increasing tendency on the part of politicians from all sides, to paint us journalists as ‘Godi media’ or ‘fake news factory’ or part of ‘tukde tukde gang’.

Journalism trains us to provide facts, and perspectives based on them. And facts are clinical, not infected by ideology or politics. Facts also won’t change to make themselves less inconvenient to us. The fact is that, today, Yogi Adityanath is the most sought-after campaigner for the BJP, after Modi. Go ahead, fight with me over this — with facts.

For me, it would be intellectually dishonest and cowardly to deliberately not acknowledge that fact. But, those sticking to these principles of classical journalism have a tough time today as questions keep flying from all interested corners: With Me, Without Me?

Views are personal.

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19 COMMENTS

  1. Though I dont like UP CM to be the popular face of BJP…this is the true fact and this author just putting this in black and white. cant dispute this article

  2. “But now, some of the intellectual discourse in these fraught times is a case of shoot first, ask questions later. Just like Yogi’s police often do, no?” – Ouch! I don’t think this is about disagreeing with the views, I think this is a lashing out of a section who are looking for “someone” to push back and not finding a “savior”, hence, the more you write about how we’re moving towards the dangerous right, the more lashing out from the twitter-verse.
    In my opinion, please increase the focus not on the fact that there is no evidence to suggest Yogi is not becoming a prime campaigner & growing from strength to strength but that he is pushing the liberal/central leaders of the BJP to the right in order to stay in the relevant in the eyes of the party leadership & not voters. This is a dangerous game we’re now entering (it looks like), where leadership approval is much higher than voter approval (or am I reading too much into this?) We need more discourse on why is there voter approval for these laws?… Are we looking at a complete change of the electorate? Are we looking at “silent” majority willing to go along as it does not impact them/us? Is this because the shadow umbrella of Modi’s personality ? Is this simply lack of political opposition (since intellectual opposition exists)? Is this because of BJP politicians scared to speak against Yogi and hardline politics (will Modi negatively attack)?
    There is a lot of “just like that” statements of the problems, need you to deep dive; you are doing a commendable job on the agricultural reforms, this needs a similar study as we’re entering a new era of politics (any lessons from the past with Indira & JP?? I wasn’t born then! 🙂 )

  3. the right on Dot. UP CM was brought to Hyderabad to campaign for Hyderabad Municipal corporation election fully knowing that he has little knowledge about the topography abd the problems people face. He came here to counter Owaisis and in process announced that if came to power, Hyderabad would renamed as Bhagyanagar without telling whether change would also make roads better, whether encroached pavement in Sultan Bazar area, where it has large number of followers would be removed etc. Yogi is taken around to add more fuel to the fire lit by its leaders.

  4. This write-up means a lot to me for two reasons: One, I consider you an objective journalist who possesses a certain degree of calmness (Rahul Shrivastava on TV is another such personality). Two, we have a rare instance of a writer evaluating readers’ responses and putting forth his own reasons for believing in the content. It’s good to get an impression that you do believe that trolls exist on both sides of the political arena. Divergent views will thrive eternally but one hopes the abusive, unacceptably angry tones would be kept out of public discourse. It must not be forgotten that the ultimate bosses are the voters – critics, and prejudiced journalists can either waste their time ranting against democratically elected leaders or sensibly critique the questionable moves of the Govt. / praise the right ones, and wait for the next round of elections. Carry on, D.K. Singh – as in the case of elections, have faith that the silent majority (there and) here, isn’t as naive as some of your fellow journalists would like to believe.

  5. Dear DK & Shekhar, the only difference is that earlier in 90’s and till 2004, the narrative was controlled by leftist fanatic intellectuals through TOI, HT, OUTLOOK, NDTV etc. The common man had no medium to articulate what he felt. The media was controlled by people like shekhar, prannoy, vinod dua, barkha etc. I know, i was a student then and had so much to say, but could only suffer in silence or at best wait for my letter to the editor to get published with heavy editions. Then it all changed with social media. Now, the ‘others’ could voice their views & opinions & the silent majority rallied behind a charismatic leader. Thats it. The hold of shekhar & prannoy over the media & the narrative was broken. That’s it.

  6. Way to go DK.
    Sermnonising – politically incorrectly.
    This is exactly why India survives and moves on, albeit at a snail’s pace. If something works for the people, we must let it work and acknowledge the same.
    Why is India great. India arguably is the only large Nation that was not created but evolved. The evolution started about 5000 years ago. In the first 3000 odd millennia the evolution was largely from within. Outsiders called the people within the subcontinent as “Hindus”. The name stuck. In the last 2000 years or so the evolution took a multifaceted direction. Kingdoms expanded to Empires and new religions, Jaininsm and Budhism, and later Sikhism were born from within. In the last 1000 years or so the Abrahamic religions Islam and Christianity took root in the sub-continent. Many took to the new religions. Those who did not remained “Hindus”. You can give the developments any type of spin or character, essentially it cannot be disputed that this is what really happened. This resulted in a Nation with many differences as exists nowhere else in the world. (My point is not about religions, so hold tight)
    Essentailly, whatever happens in India is not binary (I am not referring to Modi lovers and Modi haters, Rahul lovers and Rahul haters, Mamata lovers and Mamata haters, Arnab lovers and Arnab haters and such as you can’t attach much real substance to these stances). You can’t expect perennial tranquility in a multi-party, multi lingual, multi religious, and multi cultural large country like India. We will get all types of leaders who may not appeal equally to all Indians. That is the nature of the beast and very pronounced in a heterogenous, if I may, democracy like India.
    You can’t please all the people all the times; somewhere somebody will always be making a noise. There never was, is or will be a Utopia. The problem with India is we never let Governments work. It is always better to work and make mistakes rather than not do anything at all for fear of mistakes and stagnate. It is high time we transformed ourselves from a laggard democracy and let elected Governments work any which way. Governments will come and go. Whose Nation is it anyway?
    At the end of the day it is “We the people” who are responsible for ourselves. Responsibility is synonymous with criticism. Ah! Yes, one more point, political correctness may look chic but will never yield desired results!

  7. The article seemed less about Yogi and more about justifying the existence of this article to “Twitter”.

    Bari Weiss, while resigning from the New York Times:
    “Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor,” Weiss wrote in her resignation letter. “As the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space. Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions”

    On Twitter, it’s hard to distinguish journalist from activist from troll. Engaging anyone who is an active Twitter user in a nuanced debate is almost impossible. And increasingly, the same case is ejth someone who may not participate in Twitter debates but just consumes them, such is the reality distorting power of that platform.

    Stay away from Twitter!!

  8. CM Ajay Bisht has 300 MLAs in a House of 400. Given the pulverised state of the Opposition, in all likelihood, he will win a second term in 2022. One will not try to predict the size of the majority. That will also neutralise the criticism that power was handed to him on a platter in 2017. 2. My concern is a little different, and it stretches from Uttar Pradesh to the national canvas. When a Chief Executive has such a decisive mandate – not shaky, like PM PVNR – the reasonable expectation is that it will be used to improve people’s lives. Use whichever metrics you consider germane to the Indian context. Is it too much for a citizen in a largely poor country to expect the government to keep its part of the social compact. 3. I am pained by Trader Aunty from Seattle and some of her sakhis. Print ki poori team ke liye mera dil dhadakta hai.

  9. DK Singh you proceed the way you want to and continue your model of journalism. There is rampant dishonesty among all mainstream journalists be it from the LEFT or the RIGHT -> The Rajdeeps, the Burkhas, and the Roys committed the original sin and now Arnab and the gang are only taking it forward. I hate the terms Godi media, Tukde Tukde gang or whatever. For once these LEFTISTS SHOULD STOP BLAMING THE MEDIA FOR THE FALLACIES OF THEIR LEADERS. THE LEFT DID NOT DECLINE IN WB because of the BJP nor CONGRESS WENT DOWNHILL because of Modi. The answer is OBVIOUS.

  10. Good article!
    As far as I was concerned,I have a hard time imagining Yogi as PM.
    Just looking at his slimy,sleazy disgusting face makes my stomach churn.
    Not to mention his endless stupid laws that serve no purpose whatsoever other than Muslim-bashing.
    Hopefully people get resistance from these gimmicks from Modi and see Yogi for what he really is.

    • Yes Rahu; but the truth is…
      Yuval Noah Harari, the bestselling author, historian, philosopher and professor, says the only truth is suffering; meaning that everything else is a perception. Stands to reason everybody does not “see” the same thing in everything. The truth is revealed only when you are pinched. Until then everything is perception. Perception is in each one of us and not in which we behold.

  11. Hmmm.. what does this tell you about self declared intellectuals who proudly claim to be Modi critics. Apparently their attention span is beyond limited!! hahahaha… this truly is funny. I would go further and say, not only is their attention span limited but their minds are tightly closed as well. They’re boxed up in an ideology which often times is borrowed. They get carried away and live in la-la land. And to top it off, they call Modi fans Bhakts. How funny. Yes, some Modi fans are blinded by the glitter that his persona and the party presents but there is so much to be said about Modi haters. They seem to be a large group of fairly dumb people themselves.

  12. I agree with the facts you presented in this article and also its interpretation which is also very obvious. But, with regards to your opinion on media being called GODI media, I have to disagree. Journalists in India have lost their objectivity completely and many lack subject matter expertise also. I have several times commented on it here.
    You are using opinion pieces from data scientists on COVID 19 who have never been trained clinically and never seen a single patient. You know the result of how much their studies went off the mark. You really believe doctors like Anthony Fauci follow those data scientists? In addition, your data scientists do not live in India, are not aware of its governance capability, our culture and are staking their reputation by commenting on India basically because their reputation is worth nothing in India and they lose nothing when they do not have a stake in having a reputation in India. If they succeed, they gain & if they fail, they do not lose anything.
    Finally, remember the Bangalore riots in August,2020? All the media covered that the muslims were instigated by a comment on the Prophet but none mentioned that that comment on the Prophet was in retaliation to an Instagram post nearly one week before on Goddess Durga & Modi together. No one retaliated with violence to the Durga post but when retaliated in kind, look at how the muslims behaved and still they are being framed as victims by the media. All the persons arrested are those who made the comment on the Prophet but till now I do not know who made the post on Durga + Modi.
    I have learnt about this not from Indian media but some genuine secular activists on youtube and he is a Pakistani ex-muslim living in Australia.
    That is why, Indian media is called Godi media, presstitutes & pseudosecular because they are facts and there are several instances where the facts show it and there can only be one conclusion on the matter.
    So, please spare me all this and teach your own junior journalists in THE PRINT to be objective and start writing genuine objective journalistic pieces and stop calling them PERSONAL OPINIONS if they do have the guts and conviction.
    If you want, I can help out in vetting the articles for you.

    • Very well said Dr. Mahesh – “teach your own junior journalists in THE PRINT to be objective and start writing genuine objective journalistic pieces and stop calling them PERSONAL OPINIONS if they do have the guts and conviction.” When Shekhar Gupta was Editor Indian Express, the ratio of articles espousing Cause A vs articles supporting Cause B was 50:50. Here it is 70% of space for those “personal opinions” you refer to, and 30% for objective pieces. The same percentage holds true, more or less, for IE after SG left. Wonder what’s changed.

  13. The problem here is people look at this article as a praise or support for Yogi …which might not be the case…. It actually just highlights how Yogi has been good for BJP and its way of politics and how other BJP CMs have followed him . It doesn’t intend to glorify Yogi Adityanath.

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