LUCKNOW: Caste calculations surely weighed with the BJP in its decision to appoint a Thakur, Yogi Adityanath, as chief minister of UP, a most-backward-class leader, Keshav Kaurya, and a Brahmin, Dinesh Sharma, as the deputy CMs. But the coronation of the first-named may come with a cost for the party.
First, the liberals and moderates in the party — there are some — will take it with a pinch of salt as he has been preferred over contenders like Manoj Sinha and Dinesh Sharma himself whose credentials are development-oriented rather than Hindutva.
Second, the choice of Yogi Adityanath makes it clear that this time around, the Sangh Pariwar has managed to negotiate a little more space on Modi’s development agenda. The appointment is likely to bring up questions about the party’s development-oriented message to the voters of UP, encapsulated in the slogan ‘Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas’.
While Adityanath’s appointment is likely to establish the BJP’s Hinduvta agenda in the rest of the Hindi heartland, it may militate against the common perception that the BJP secured the support of all castes and communities in UP to register a thumping majority.
This next two years are not likely to be a cakewalk for the Yogi. The price he may have to pay for heading a humongous and diverse state like UP with a population of over 20 crore - 20 per cent Dalit and 18 per cent Muslim -- could be to dilute his Hindutva agenda himself.
Adityanath is faced with the challenge of keeping the communal amity in a state whose minorities are likely to view his regime with suspicion. Any unrest is likely to be interpreted in communal colours and throw a spanner in the party’s development agenda.
Restoring the people’s faith in the state machinery, establishing the rule of law and securing support from all sections of society would be another challenge for the new chief minister. He will have to shed his abrasive hard right persona to win the confidence of the minorities.
The real challenge to the BJP, however, is not to lose the plot of development by the time the party bids for a renewal of its mandate in 2019.
Meanwhile, the signs of changing times have already started showing in state capital Lucknow. Getting into an active mode, chief secretary Rahul Bhatangar has started sending signals on the tone and tenor of the new dispensation set to assume charge on Sunday.
Bhatnagar issued an office circular for bureaucrats directing them to make themselves present in time from Monday.