LUCKNOW/ NEW DELHI: BJP leaders M Venkaiah Naidu and Bhupendra Yadav waited till Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Rawat was sworn in before initiating the process of announcing Yogi Adityanath as the next CM of UP , along with Keshav Maurya and Dinesh Sharma as deputy chief ministers.
The deputy CMs, sources said, would represent a caste balance and bear some of the administrative load, given that Adityanath could need some time to learn the ropes.
Maurya represents a key segment of the OBC consolidation while Lucknow mayor Dinesh Sharma is a Brahmin.
Of the two deputy CMs, Maurya, who is state BJP chief, will be seen as the “senior”. Both deputy CMs were named at the meeting of the BJP legislature party. Yogi Adityanath will be the first Thakur by caste from BJP, after Union home minister Rajnath Singh, to reach the top post in the state.
Adityanath’s profile is seen as above caste and the political messaging is clearly aimed at consolidating a Hindutva constituency around the Hindu nationalist plank ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
It is intended to underline BJP’s nationalist as well as governance message under PM Narendra Modi.
The Yogi , for long known as “chotte mahant” when his mentor Avaidyanath was alive, is seen as a charismatic figure with a tough image crafted on hard talk on issues like Pakistan, love jihad and the Kairana exodus.
He has weighed in on behalf of “Hindu” interests during clashes and disputes but seems to enjoy wide popularity in his area of influence around the famous Gorakhnath Math.
The meteoric rise of five-time Gorakhapur MP born Ajay Singh in Garhwal as Uttar Pradesh CM, is seen to carry the risk of confrontationist politics in a politically volatile state, but in the view of BJP members, reflects the essence of the massive mandate the party received in the just concluded polls.
The vote was strongly inspired by what BJP feels is a voter sentiment against the “casteist” and “communalised” governance of Samajwadi Party and its paler, but equally caste-tinged version offered by Bahujan Samaj Party.
To that extent, Yogi’s image is seen as a perfect fit for the nature of the mandate though his image lacks the development quotient. BJP members said he will have to learn the ropes as an administrator while the deputy CMs assist in governance tasks. Known for springing surprises, Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah have taken yet another out-of-the-box decision in choosing Yogi, though the decision is more unconventional than the CM choices in Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana.
This choice underscores BJP’s decision of not fielding a single Muslim candidate in Uttar Pradesh. BJP has consistently flayed the opposition parties for their wooing of the “Muslim vote-bank” and Adityanath justified the party’s candidate selection as a correction of an imbalance created by rivals.
BJP succeeded in counter-polarisation of the Hindu votes and blurred divisions along caste lines. Although, Modi and Shah have promoted a radical person as state helmsman, it is yet to be seen how Yogi performs since his qualities as an administrator are not tested so far.
Moreover, he hasn’t been one of the mainstream BJP members but has been seen as a rallying force of the Hindutva agenda as he also heads the “Hindu Vahini” a radical wing of the saffron family, active in eastern UP around Gorakhapur. Presence of Yogi during launch of the party manifesto in Lucknow had left enough hints about his possibility to takeover as the chief minister. However, he maintained a low profile till the end and was seen as one of the last options when speculations were doing the round.