By making Yogi Adityanath the chief minister, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose to gamble on a product of the Ayodhya movement who has maximum following in Uttar Pradesh. He was not only the most sought after person after party chief Amit Shah for campaigning in the run up to the Assembly elections, he also holds sway in at least 65 constituencies in east UP. But the bigger gains came from the reverse polarisation his campaigning did in western UP—which has a sizeable Muslim population—to nullify the BSP, SP and Congress pandering for the Muslim vote bank. In the final analysis, the BJP got over 100 seats in western UP alone.
In other words, his impact was felt in at least 40 per cent of the seats in UP. While many labelled Modi’s decision retrograde going by the Gorakhpur-based saint-politician’s known positions on various issues, there is no denying the current generation of the BJP’s leadership in UP emerged out of Babri activism and quite a few were Bajrang Dal leaders before they learnt to temper their statements. Adityanath, on the other hand, chose to speak his mind, so we know where he stands on issues such as nationalism, Islam, Pakistan and love jihad. Just a few weeks ago, he had said, “I can’t give up Hindutva. Hindutva and development are our issues and will remain so.”
But after it became known that he was the CM pick, Adityanath harped on Modi’s frequent one-liner to describe his agenda—sabka saath, sabka vikas (collective efforts, inclusive growth). At 44, age is on Yogi’s side. He is also a fiery orator. Though a little short on administrative experience, the Thakur sanyasin has two deputy CMs—the soft Dinesh Sharma, a Brahmin, and the OBC leader Keshav Maurya—to strengthen his hands and balance the caste arithmetic. It remain to be seen whether Adityanath would walk the sabka saath talk, shake off his divisive image, end lawlessness and take UP on the path of progress.