modi and yogi
Illustration: Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint

Opposition parties looked alive after a long time last week, thanks to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. He must get the credit for making even the Gandhi siblings look like die-hard politicians and street-fighters — Rahul Gandhi falling on the ground after being shoved by the UP police on the Yamuna Expressway; and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, jostled around in a melee, pushing cops and hopping across a barricade to shield a Congress worker from their batons.

Being shoved to the ground in a scuffle with the police must have been a first for Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien, too. The Adityanath government’s insensitive and inept response to the alleged gangrape of a Dalit woman by upper caste men in Hathras has brought the opposition back from the dead.

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But, it’s not the opposition that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may be worried about. He knows the Gandhi family better than anyone else. The Congress party’s ‘first family’ may make a dash here and a splash there once every few months but they are too delicate to bear the dust and heat of politics outside the Lutyens’ zone. Modi loves to indulge Rahul Gandhi although he may be a bit curious about Priyanka’s politics. Unlike her brother, she loves to stay in India and has shown a better grasp of opposition politics.

On his annual vacation in London, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav’s attack on the Adityanath government was limited to the Twitter universe and so was Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati’s criticism. Yadav returned home Saturday.

As for other opposition parties, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s — as also the Left’s — love for Dalits, who constitute 23 per cent of West Bengal’s population, is likely to wane after the assembly election early next year. And protests by the so-called Jantar Mantar and Khan Market activists and politicians are right up Modi’s alley.

The top BJP leadership may, however, be anxious about the Hathras incident’s impact on the upcoming assembly election in Bihar where Dalits constitute 16 per cent of the population. In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, 76 per cent Dalits in Bihar said they voted for the NDA as against 5 per cent for the UPA, according to the National Election Studies (NES), a post-poll survey conducted by the Lokniti-CSDS (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies). In an election where Nitish Kumar is said to be struggling to beat anti-incumbency, the BJP government in UP has given more ammunition to the opposition.

Also read: ‘Drunk on power’ UP Police will break the system beyond repair

Yogi Adityanath’s soaring ambition

What must be disquieting for the prime minister, however, is the fact that the UP chief minister is a man in a hurry. Adityanath seemingly believes he must settle the debate over Modi’s successor sooner rather than later. Into the second year of his second term, Modi may well be looking forward to a third term but the vaulting ambitions of his party colleagues keep soaring.

A new slogan rented the air in a meeting over the proposed Film City in Lucknow last month: Yogi hai to yakeen hai (There is trust in Yogi). It alliterated with Modi hai to mumkin hai (it’s possible with Modi at the helm). Over the past three years, Adityanath has been trying to model himself on Modi.

Like the PM, the UP CM must be seen as a strong and decisive leader. The UP administration must, therefore, deal with dissenters with a sledgehammer, invoking the National Security Act (NSA), the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), sedition laws, et al.

The UP police must have the licence to kill at will in the name of encounters. Politics must be reduced to an “Ali versus Bajrang Bali” contest. Covid-19 management must be about keeping the official infection numbers down, no matter how low is the testing figure (per million).

One of the first things the Yogi government has done to deal with the nationwide outrage over the alleged gangrape is to get a new Additional Chief Secretary (information department) Navneet Sehgal, a blue-eyed boy of both Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati during their tenure. Yogi is certainly not the first leader to reduce governance into an image-management exercise.

Also read: Yogi Adityanath is the ‘best chief minister in India,’ only not in Uttar Pradesh

Opposition parties don’t see the mirror

To be fair to the Adityanath government, the opposition leaders crying hoarse about the dismal law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh don’t look in the mirror. BJP-led UP topped the list of crime against women with 59,853 cases in 2019, 408 cases more than the previous year, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data. Congress-run Rajasthan came second with 41,550 cases in 2019. What’s alarming about Rajasthan was an increase of about 50 per cent in crime against women over 2018 (27,866 cases). In 2019, the rate of total crime against women (cases per lakh of population) was 55.4 in Uttar Pradesh, 62.7 in Left-ruled Kerala, 110.4 in Rajasthan and 144 in Aam Aadmi Party-ruled Delhi. Given population variations in different states, the crime rate gives a more realistic picture than the absolute number of cases. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal were among prominent leaders who joined the protest at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar against the Hathras incident last week.

There were 545 alleged Dalit rape victims in UP in 2019, according to the NCRB; this number was 556 in Congress-ruled Rajasthan. In terms of the crime rate in this category, Rajasthan did worse than Uttar Pradesh — 4.5 against 1.3. Kerala had the worst crime rate (rape cases involving Dalit women) of 4.6.

Akhilesh Yadav, Adityanath’s predecessor, can’t speak much on this score. In 2016, his last year in office, UP registered the highest number of crimes against women and came second only to Madhya Pradesh in terms of rape cases.

These comparative numbers, however, don’t represent the true picture in terms of the public impression about the Adityanath government. Yogi has been under attack from the opposition parties for his government’s alleged bias in favour of the upper castes, especially Kashtriyas, his caste. His government was accused of trying to shield Kshatriya rape accused, including Chinmayanand and Kuldip Singh Sengar.

Also read: UP books ex-IAS officer for accusing Yogi govt of low testing to hide ‘true Covid figure’

Modi needs to teach ‘raj dharma’ to Yogi

The UP Police’s atrocious handling of the Hathras ‘gangrape’ incident could only deepen this impression of ‘Thakurwad’ against Yogi Adityanath. This threatens to undo the gains the BJP has made under Narendra Modi — expanding its traditionally upper caste vote bank to include backward classes and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Conscious of the BJP’s expanding social base, the opposition has been using every opportunity to try to paint Modi and his government as anti-Dalit — starting with Hyderabad University scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide in January 2016, flogging of Dalits by cow vigilantes in Gujarat’s Una, Bhima Koregaon violence in Maharashtra in January 2018, and dilution of the SC/ST Atrocities Act (which was later recalled by the Supreme Court), among numerous others. Modi weathered it out in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, with 34 per cent of the Dalits voting for the BJP, up from 24 per cent in 2014, according to the National Election Studies.

In that election in UP, 76 per cent of the Jatavs (Mayawati’s core vote bank) voted for the Mahagathbandhan (SP-BSP-RLD alliance) and 17 per cent for the NDA, said the Lokniti-CSDS post-poll survey. Among the non-Jatavs, however, 48 per cent voted for the NDA and only 42 per cent for the Mahagathbandhan.

Opposition parties’ campaign against the BJP, however, did seem to strike a chord in some states. In Gujarat, there was a dip in the BJP’s support base among Dalits — from 39 per cent in 2017 assembly election to 28 per cent in the 2019 Lok Sabha election; for the Congress, it increased from 53 per cent in 2017 to 67 per cent in 2019.

In Maharashtra, 30 per cent of the Dalits voted for the BJP and the Shiv Sena in 2019, down from 56 per cent in the previous Lok Sabha election (NES 2014). There were similar trends in many other states.

While the BJP’s expansion among the backward classes has continued, the party’s new social base may prove to be tenuous if it fails to obviate growing public perception about its pro-upper caste leanings. PM Modi may like to instruct Yogi Adityanath to follow ‘raj dharma’, an advice he had received from then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002. The No. 2 in the government at the time, L.K. Advani had come to the rescue of then Gujarat chief minister. It is unlikely to work the same way in the current dispensation at the Centre if the UP CM were to find himself in a similar situation.

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  1. The article is wrong in saying ‘Being Vajpayee is the answer’.

    Vajpayee was a Hindu fascist, like anyone schooled in the Sangh. He betrayed freedom fighters, and Modi was protected by Vajpayee in 2002. During the Gujarat riots, Vajpayee coolly went off on holiday, and came back 10 days later and made some mealy mouthed observation about Raj dharma. He did not have Modi prosecuted and dismissed.

    The Hindu media portrayed Vajpayee as a moderate – because there was the Hindu extremist Advani before him. Vajpayee was moderate only because he did not have a majority.

    Now that Yogi is seen as extreme even by Hindu sensibilities, the Hindu media talk as if Modi is a moderate.

    The Hindu media have enabled one Hindu fascist after another : Advani, Vajpayee, Modi, Yogi…..

    India’s free fall cannot be arrested till Hindus demand a ban on the RSS, an investigation of its accounts and indoctrination, and prosecution for riots. They have tasted the blood of Muslims, they will want the blood of Hindus next. That stage is coming.

    • Your mischievous and deliberate use of the word “Hindu” when it should be “Hindutva” is highly objectionable. You should be prevented from commenting for this.

  2. From the state of UP hails a saffron monk
    Who they say is very power-drunk

    “I will use UP’ s funds to make goshalas
    UP’s children don’t need paathshalas”

    People still vote for me, even though I sell junk !!!!

  3. Dear print why i am not will to donate u is because u are acting like mouth piece of Congress party. U see the the language used by this third class author. shame on yoyu Mr.Shekar Gupta.

  4. To compare Kerala with rajasthan and up is like comparing apples and oranges. In Kerala the police is willing to register fir. Hence high numbers. Just on basis of Fir if crime rate is calculated, wrong information is presented. What we need is a standard process of registering fir. Let’s have a common number like 911. As soon as user calls on the number an fir should be created. A centralised call center team then should assign it to corresponding police station. The concerned police station needs to go to the caller location and update the fir with caller statement and give copy of the statement in English or regional language. Under no circumstances caller should visit police station for the initial statement. Implement this at national level. Only after this can we compare crime statistics among different states.

    • An outstanding comment Mr/Ms Ida.

      Kerala is streets ahead of the BIMARU states on all fronts and statistics from Kerala cannot be directly compared with “statistics” from the BIMARU black holes.

  5. History may well repeat itself. The abstemious monk becoming PM in future, totally eclipsing all party colleagues of his generation. UP $ 1 trillion, India $ 5 trillion.

    • He said that he is making UP the world’s industrial hub and he is attracting firms leaving China. He has made UP a centre for religious tourism.

  6. Firstly, to preach raj dharma, you have to practise it yourself. That’s exactly why Modi-Shah are unable to even mention it to YogiNahi.

    Second, it’s this blind approach to stats that motivate the Modi government to fudge them as part of official policy. That’s also why police refuse to register FIRs, besides the other reasons. If you’re suggesting that Kerala is a worse place for Dalits and women compared to UP, you obviously have your head and your backside in the exact opposite places to where they are supposed to be.

    Crimes against Dalits and Dalit women are high in Kerala only because FIRs are registered and such crimes are reported without fear. In the Sengar rape case, an FIR was registered for rape against him only after almost a year, and two public suicide attempts by the victim. Sengar even visited the CM’s home after killing the victim’s father. Such things don’t happen in Kerala. Failure to register an FIR even in a minor land dispute is enough to cause the suspension of the Inspector involved. (I’m speaking from personal experience here.) In Kerala, we don’t ask your caste!!

    Even in Rajasthan, government support to upper caste criminals is way more prevalent during BJP rule. It’s an open fact that the cops did not take action against the dalit crimes you’ve mentioned in Gujarat either. So, the BJP being anti-dalit is not a perception, but the reality. Modi tried
    to change the perception, and so won dalit votes. Unfortunately, like in multiple areas, he didn’t try to change the reality, and so he’s losing those votes!!

    • A hard-hitting, outstanding comment Mr Subin.

      Kerala has made a lot more progress in the area of caste based discrimination and violence. Both in terms of combatting the social discrimination that caste creates as well as the enforcement of laws. Of course, discrimination and other caste based crimes have not gone down to zero. But the trends are positive.

      As you rightly point out, the statistics across states do not allow an apples to apples comparison simply due to differences in the efficacy of governance structures in the various states. This is a universal phenomenon – the immense difficulty of comparing raw figures without factoring in underlying variables. For instance, in the early 2000s, Sweden changed the legal definition of what constitutes “rape” and also the way legal definition of “counts” of an illegal act were computed. That led to a surge in the statistics leading many jingoistic Indians, particularly during the Nirbhaya tragedy to angrily counter that India is safer than Sweden !

      You have a similar situation in Kerala – better reporting and governance lead to more cases being registered in Kerala and fewer hidden cases. In the chappathi belt though, this is reversed. Reported cases are but the visible tip of the iceberg with the bulk of the cases going unreported.

      Kerala has undoubtedly a long way to go. But acknowledgement of the problem as opposed to obfuscating it goes a long way in resolving it.

      Please do write more Mr Subin. As my old grandmother would say “virthi”, “vivaram” and “vidhyabaasam” is what sets us from God’s Own Country apart!

    • I guess you can cite a couple of statistics : women in Kerala outlive men (as in the west), and female to male ratio is higher, the only place in India.

      I remember reading Modi visited Kerala and he remarked people there are in worse condition than in Somalia.

      Their angry reaction stems from injured self esteem. Instead of raising themselves, which they obviously cannot, they say everyone elsewhere is living in a sewer – like them.

  7. It is true that Yogi Adityanath has signally failed in handling the Hathras episode.If this is a reflection of his Thakurvad,then it will be disaster for BJP and Modi..It is high time he is pulled up and if necessary,replaced by a unifying popular leader.If the BJP plays its card wisely and with generosity,the Muslim community will be largely receptive.But the BJP needs a less controversial and polarising leader as compared to the Yogi.Yogi can never shed his Anti-Muslim image.The BJP does not need Yogi to mobilise the Hindutva votes.A change at the present time will also raise the prospects of retaining UP for the BJP at the 2022 elections.Will Modi-Shah bite the Bullet?

  8. Dear DK Singh(author of this article),

    It’s sad to see you keep writing articles blatantly supporting BJP and outrightly reject the opposition. But still not getting noticed by Modi & Co. I understand that it’s highly frustrating for you to make loyalty to BJP isn’t properly recognized by the party.

    Let me suggest a few options get noticed & get recognized by BJP folks in a jiffy and make a shit load of money.

    Option 1) Please resign from The Print and join Republic TV. If Republic TV isn’t your cup of tea then you can try India TV and others as well.

    Option 2) Please resign from The Print and join the BJP Independent Journalist forum like Swapan Dasgupta thereby your MP seat may get ensured

    Option 3) Please resign from The Print. Please translate all your BJP supporting articles in Hindi and put up a stall in front of the BJP office. Hindi translation of your (BJP supporting) articles may fetch you a good position, I am sure.

    But please note, all aforesaid options have one thing in common. Please resign from ‘The Print’.

    Because people like me still believe ‘The Print’ magazine is a neutral one and doesn’t support right-wing propaganda.

    • Whatever you say, supporting Right Wing does not make you BJP bhakt. If it were then Owaisi an AIMIM should also be allies of BJP. Maybe your misconception of RW is responsible for such comment. RW meings coservatism and supremacist views be it religious or cultural. Don’t forget Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s remark on Rhe’s identity as a “Brahmin girl”.

  9. In my view, Yogi mishandled the Hathras episode and virtually handed over the issue on a platter to the opposition parties, more particularly to the Rahul-Priyanka duo. As Mr Shekhar Gupta has rightly observed, the mid-night cremation was the biggest blunder of Yogi and will stick to him for the rest of his political tenure. While PM Modi sitting in distant Delhi could discern the political significance of this blunder, Yogi smugly overlooked the obvious and woke up when it was too late. By no stretch of imagination, Yogi can be considered as a successor to Modi. His body-language is too placid and emotionless and appears to be completely devoid of any intellectualism. Modi, in contrast, appears very human and though he is did not receive any formal education, is well read. Come 2022 and we shall know the difference.

  10. Still in a maturing democracy that mean far away from matured democracy the party elected in power are policy maker and they should be focus on implementing policies they been elected for. And opposition party in a maturing democracy is a voice of people who raise loud and clear message to govt about their work and conduct but in last six year unfortunately opposition/ or people voice was missing it is good that congress at least now bringing to the table.



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