If the NDA government hadn’t taken the demonetisation route, I would have joined others in condemning the appointment of Yogi Adityanath, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi would have had a big say.
The UP election results proved that too many mainstream analysts were quite wrong in their assessment that the demonetisation bogey would sink Modi like the Titanic.
The facts and figures might have been correct, but statistics never tell the full story, including the mental and psychological aspects that are at play. Or else, many would not consider Rahul Dravid to be the greater test batsman than Sachin Tendulkar.
Let’s be clear about this. If the RSS and Modi were not on the same page about the new UP chief minister, he would never have been chosen.
To be more precise, if the unassailable Modi did not want Adityanath, it would not have happened, just as it is the Khans who decide their heroine, not producers, directors or Kangana Ranaut.
How Yogi is Different
The elevation of Adityanath could also put the Indian Prime Minister in a Catch-22 situation. As many observers seem to predict, deploying clinching Youtube evidence of the past, the divisive, firebrand Yogi will fail as chief minister, causing UP to burn, the way it happened in the early 90s when the Babri Masjid was demolished.
The blame would then fall squarely on Modi. Indeed, it is very easy to denounce Yogi, given his chequered past, hate speeches and spiteful comments, including comparing Shah Rukh Khan to a terrorist.
If Yogi had a family, he would probably have not made such a statement. However, it is also true that Adityanath is devoid of qualities that we tend to dislike in others. Like the Samajwadi Party, he will definitely not spawn an extended family enterprise that will feed off his success, squabble for a bigger share of the political pie or else help themselves to a Lamborghini, to traverse around the crowded streets of Lucknow.
He Deserves a Chance!
Having fought his way up from the ranks, Adityanath is also unlikely to disappear for breaks and holidays like Rahul Gandhi to de-stress and detox. Most Indian parents will hammer their kids to work harder should they fail a big exam. Very few are as lucky as Gandhi. Some may hate me for saying this, but Yogi is also gifted with an abstract quality called charisma – even if rustic and raw like Vin Diesel – that few are endowed. Other examples include Modi or Indira Gandhi.
It is for the same reason that Amit Shah does all the hard work, but Modi walks away with the accolades. Though most seem to have ruled out this prospect, there is also the very dim possibility that Yogi may actually succeed as CM, the way Modi did in Gujarat.
Anything is possible in this world, including Virat Kohli getting out of form. To everybody’s collective surprise, Yogi could focus on growth and governance for most part of his tenure, learning along the way from Modi the art of deftly playing the Hindutva card when necessary, especially before elections.
Can Yogi be a Threat to Modi?
Indeed, should he succeed as CM, there could emerge a scenario that Yogi becomes a potent threat to Modi himself in the future, given the primacy of UP in the Lok Sabha.
Modi could even find himself elevated to the hoary committee of has-beens, the margdarshak mandal, ironically created to defang and sideline LK Advani, the original patron and protector of the PM.
But, the Modi-Amit Shah duo has not gotten so far in the politics by being naive. There is a big chance that their next big plan is to split UP, effectively clipping Adityanath’s chances of taking centre stage. At best, he could then be a tall state leader like Shivraj Chouhan with little prospects at the national level.
Anything is possible in politics and cricket, including Virat Kohli shouldering a spinning ball headed for the middle stump.
(Siddharth Srivastava is a Gurgaon-based journalist and author of two novels ‘Blogging the 40s’ and ‘An Offbeat Story’. He can be reached @SiddharthWriter. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)