Illustration | Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint

Days before the Karnataka assembly passed the controversial anti-cattle slaughter bill last week, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa had sent his animal husbandry minister Prabhu Chavan to Lucknow. Chavan called on Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath to learn how the latter had made the anti-cow slaughter law of 1955 more stringent.

The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religious Ordinance, 2020, commonly known as ‘love jihad’ law, came into effect on 28 November. Nine days later, on December 7, Madhya Pradesh assembly protem speaker Rameshwar Sharma was in Lucknow to meet Adityanath to learn about UP’s law against inter-faith marriage. “I am impressed, the way Uttar Pradesh government under the leadership of Yogi Adityanath cleared the ordinance against love jihad and even acted swiftly to register its first case. I am leaving for Lucknow…to discuss the law,” Sharma told The Times of India in Bhopal before leaving.

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On 1 November, a day after the UP CM had declared his intent to bring a ‘love jihad’ law, his Haryana counterpart, Manohar Lal Khattar, declared his government was also contemplating ‘legal provisions’ against it. He later formed a three-member committee to study the law implemented in UP and other states.

It’s not the first time that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief ministers are taking cues from Yogi Adityanath. Earlier this year, Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani instructed police officials to look into the possibility of recovering damages to public and private properties from anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protesters.

Also read: The real threat in Yogi govt’s anti-conversion law lies in its ambiguity

A new churn

So, what’s happening in the BJP? What has made Yogi Adityanath such an inspirational figure for his party colleagues—and a role model for BJP chief ministers? So much so that even Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Madhya Pradesh CM, who used to wear a skull cap and hold iftar parties at his residence, is trying to model himself on Adityanath.

Chouhan, a four-term CM, was known for his governance model. Why should he try to emulate a first-term CM, his UP counterpart, and send an emissary to him, Rameshwar Sharma, to get tips about legislation-making?

There are multiple reasons for this. First of all, Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not tire of talking about the kamaal (wonders) Adityanath has done, be it the pace of development, the Covid-19 management or improved law and order situation.

Remember the Onida TV tagline of the 1980s? ‘Neighbour’s envy, owner’s pride’. But it’s not envy that’s prompting BJP CMs to emulate Adityanath. For them, he is a role model who knows how to become the owner’s pride. His counterparts can’t ignore the accolades the UP CM keeps getting from the PM.

In fact, the UP CM has started setting the agenda for his counterparts. On November 24, when Modi held a virtual meeting with chief ministers over Covid-19 management after a long gap, the Adityanath cabinet cleared the draft ordinance on inter-faith marriage, stealing the thunder (read headlines) out of the Covid meet. It’s an unwritten code in the BJP and the government that when there is a big PM programme, let that dominate the political discourse on news outlets. Besides, when Modi has gone live telling the CMs not to let their guards down and maintain greater alacrity in Covid management, one wouldn’t usually expect a state administration, especially one led by the BJP, to make ‘love jihad’ its priority.

But the big question was: Did Yogi Adityanath do it without taking Modi’s consent? Could he? Other BJP CMs were obviously convinced he had the PM’s backing and so rushed to emulate it. It was not the first time though. In April, when the Centre’s lockdown guidelines prohibited movement of people within or outside a state, the Adityanath government decided to send hundreds of buses to bring back migrant labourers from other states. In fact, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar lost a lot of his political capital in an election year for refusing to bring Bihari students back from Kota in violation of the Centre’s guidelines when UP could do it. The guidelines were issued by Amit Shah-led Union home ministry but who would bell the cat? Adityanath, the UP CM, was not a political lightweight or pushover any longer; he could hold his own.

Also read: What’s inside UP Police’s intel reports on Yogi Adityanath’s Hindu Yuva Vahini

Modi No. 2

Left and liberals may cry foul over ‘police raj’, trampling of civil rights and liberties and communal politics in UP, but Yogi Adityanath has become the second most sought-after BJP campaigner after Modi— from Maharashtra to Hyderabad, West Bengal, Kerala, everywhere. He is much in demand even in Modi’s home state, Gujarat, during elections. The party’s ideological patron, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), is equally happy to have discovered and developed another powerful Hindutva mascot after Modi. The PM is credited for taking the BJP to unprecedented heights in Uttar Pradesh, but within four years after becoming the CM, Adityanath has become a mass leader in his own right. He is assiduously trying to build his image as Modi No. 2, a Hindu Hriday Samrat and Vikas Purush.

He wants to make UP a trillion dollar economy so as to enable Modi to make India a $5 trillion economy. Modi doesn’t talk about it much nowadays but Yogi must prove he can. Listen to his top officials showcasing UP’s success as No. 1 investment destination.

It was in this context that Adityanath was in Mumbai recently to woo Bollywood and business big-wigs to invest in UP. There are always sceptics and political detractors who play spoilsport, asking uncomfortable questions about how much of the MoUs, signed in investors’ summit in 2018, has really fructified on the ground.

But these questions are irrelevant in a world made of perceptions and image management. Spin doctors of the Adityanath administration in Lucknow would have us believe that Modi and Yogi are becoming synonymous in UP—and outside, too, to some extent. That may or may not be the case but BJP CMs are obviously not taking any chances.

Views are personal.

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  1. Perceptions and opinions can different. But it would be improper not giving Yogi his due in improving a large state such as UP.

  2. The author mentions FACTS, is what drives journalists. Sorry to say this bro but facts too can be cooked or twisted out of perspective. Agreed you might be thoroughly investigative, but that too can be used to create a narrative which suits one side or another. (Disclaimer: my thoughts are purely based on hollywood movies.)
    Click bait provocation in headlines is one thing, but do understand that poking a bear just to count its teeth is not a good idea. (risk being labeled). if Journalists help turn the wheels of everything that happens in the country (or the world). If a man talks divisive, journalists help his voice reach every corner of the country, aiding in reaction to it. (you can picture other scenarios like that im sure). Imagine publishing AIMIM leaders’ speeches, i bet that’s not a wheel anyone wants to help turn. Similarly, one must know when to support the system and when to question it. JUST SAYING.

  3. Some one like Yogi Aditya Nath growing up big is not good for India, as Trump becoming the president was not good for America and the world.

  4. This is seriously hilarious!!

    Even the author is at wits end, to actually provide a real achievement of his favorite Yogi. At the end of the day, this man is all perception and nothing more.

    Unfortunately for India, we care only about vishwas, not vikas. So his bold faced, fake image is all Yogi needs to be considered a viable PM candidate.
    Well, hopefully the same Indians who vote for him dont cry when he himself destroys their dreams and aspirations for the sake of pride.

    • Yuval Noah Harari, the bestselling author, historian, philosopher and professor, say 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 you and not in which you behold.

  5. If perception management is what goes for governance then Yogi has a good future, ahead of him,but perceptions cannot mask a state that turns on its own citizens to prop up such images, it cannot mask a state where dissent is treated as a threat and routinely clamped down on and it cannot mask a society that is giving into hatred of its own citizens.

    Growth and communalism are mutuallty exclusive, you cannot be a trillion dollar economy, when any incident can lead to communal violence, where the government itself attacks its citizens if it shows them the mirror and where anti-people laws ( like when he suspended even the requirement of companies to have proper safety standards and propesed to set up a bureau to decide if migrant labour can be hired) are passed without any challenge

    Yogis path will only lead to fake pride without growth, where steadily that is the only thing remaining. Choose wisely or be ready to regret your decision.

  6. A democracy is not born overnight. It has to develop experiencing a mix of authorities ranging from authoritative, benevolent, chaotic et al, before it really becomes a Government of the people. The process is more difficult, with a Nation as diverse and as large, where size matters, as India. As yet, India is an infant democracy – just 70 odd years old – and evolving.
    In my life time, I have realized that in our discussions we always talk about the rights afforded to the people by our constitution. We never discuss the responsibilities that go with these rights. That is the reason that few irresponsible persons feel they are right. But thankfully, majority (do not read it as opposite of “minority”, please) of the people know their responsibilities and limitations. Else the country would have disintegrated decades ago.
    In the context we must realize that this minority (do not read it as the opposite of “majority”), which includes a large part of the media, tend to prop up heroes and anti-heroes in the political firmament. The majority, SG should know with all his travels as part of the political journalist’s bandwagon, are not swayed by the media. They react to what they feel and see.
    Points to ponder: Who become legends? What is the role of the media in creating legends?

  7. Won’t be long before the Hon’ble Prime Minister Modi will attain the age of Margdarshak. It’s good that at least one political party in this country takes political succession seriously and does not depend on ties of blood and marriage to determine whose next. Ideologically speaking there is much to lament that it is CM Adityanath and not someone like Nitin Gadkari who is likely to succeed PM Modi.

  8. Yogi ji is a very capable administrator, honest, educated (has a Bsc in Mathematics), hard working and is dedicated to the nation. He has all the good qualities of a leader. India needs visionary leaders like Yogi and PM Modi if we are ever to leave behind the damage and destruction of Mughal, British and Congress mis rule.

  9. I thought good journalism meant not being swayed by perception management and holing up the mirror to governments. Can you talk about facts and figures along with the above please. I don’t think the need of the hour in UP is better campaigners for the BJP or any party for that matter. Nor is it the time for more lives to be at the mercy of the state whether through food/livelihood restrictions or for the personal space of a citizen to be encroached. If this is the kind of politics that DK Singh finds fascinating, i’d rather not read his analysis.

  10. I am sorry, but I don’t get the point of this article. It looks like an answer to a 5 mark question students write but they only know obvious things.

    Yogi is being propped up as “the next PM” (gods help this country after that), it’s not exactly subtle. There is a lot of work being done so there’s no challenger from inside BJP. BJP inner workings aren’t exactly democratic.

    • it is because he is (CM) effective that haters provoke the state by abetting rape, like a challenge if you may. Poor little girls suffer in this resistance to change. Nothing the CM can do about it except help pass a law that increases severity of rape accused. (this is turn will allow women to falsely accuse if not drafted properly, which is why the delay i suppose)

  11. yogi adithayanath wants to become no 2 man in b j p to succced mr mody. b j p is not building proper team so it will be easy for him to succeed, but it will be disaster for country. he may develop u p but when it comes to whole of india how far he will be able to sdjust to his totaliratian views and action. but other politicians has to be careful nor they will left on side ways , this is politics no body cares for anybody.


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