In the run-up to the recently-held Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, comparisons were being made with the political situation during the 2015 Bihar state polls. It was because ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) and Congress had forged an alliance in UP just as the "grand alliance" of ruling JD(U), RJD and Congress in the neighbouring state. In other similarity, BJP had not declared the chief ministerial candidate in both the states and had decided to contest the elections with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the party's face. Hence, conclusion was also drawn that BJP might meet the same fate as in Bihar and get defeated.
However, the UP Assembly election results have proved that this comparison was misplaced. In fact, the one election which comes close for comparison is the 2003 state polls of Madhya Pradesh (MP). While there are some similarities between the recent UP and 2003 MP Assembly elections, there are several differences too. Similarly, comparisons can be drawn between newly anointed UP Chief Minister Yogi Aditynath and then MP chief minister Uma Bharati.
SIMILARITIES BETWEEN 2017 UP AND 2003 MP ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS
- BJP was out of power in both the states for a long time. In UP, a BJP government had last ruled almost 15 years ago (in March 2002), while it had last governed MP about 11 years ago (December 1992).
- BJP won both the states by a whopping three-fourths majority. By winning 173 of the total 230 seats, BJP garnered three-fourths majority in MP. In UP too, BJP won by similar majority by bagging a whopping 312 out of the total 403 seats.
- BJP-led NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in power at the Centre in 2003 while Narendra Modi-headed NDA government is ruling the Centre at present.
- Both Sadhvi Uma Bharati and Yogi Adityanath are saffron-clad saint-politicians, who became chief ministers of UP and MP respectively for the first time.
- Both are singles, enjoy mass appeal and are outstanding orators.
- Both Uma Bharati and Yogi Adityanath are known for their love for animals - the former for cows and dogs, the latter for cows and felines. On spotting a cow, Uma would stop her car to feed the sacred animal. Yogi Adityanath has a "goshala" at his Gorakhnath math in Gorakhpur.
- Just after getting sworn in as chief minister, Uma had gone to Delhi and returned with two puppies - named Kala and Bhura, based on their black and brown colours respectively. She would reportedly feed them with cotton. Similarly, Yogi Adityanath is seen feeding a tiger cub with a bottle.
- Both Uma Bharati and Yogi Adityanath are Lok Sabha MPs from Uttar Pradesh. Though Uma Bharati belongs to MP and was CM of that state, she was forced to shift to the neighbouring state due to political compulsions. On the other hand, though Yogi Adityanath was born in Uttarakhand, he has become the CM of UP.
- Both became chief ministers in their 40s. Born on May 3, 1959, Uma Bharati was almost 44 years when she was anointed as MP CM. Born on June 5, 1972, Yogi Adityanath is 44.
The similarities between the two elections, two states and two personalities perhaps end here.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN YOGI ADITYANATH AND UMA BHARATI
Uma Bharati had been projected as BJP's chief ministerial candidate for the 2003 MP Assembly elections. However, the party contested the 2017 UP polls without projecting any CM face. Instead, BJP fought the UP polls on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's charisma.
While Uma Bharati was a Union Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, Yogi Adityanath has never held a ministerial berth - neither at the Centre nor in UP. He, however, has a long experience of being a five-term Lok Sabha MP for about 19 years since 1998.
While Uma Bharati was considered close to the LK Advani camp, Yogi Adityanath does not belong to any camp or faction of BJP.
Even before becoming MP CM, Uma Bharati was popular throughout the country, primarily because of her association with the Ram Janmboomi-Babri Masjid controversy. She is also an accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case. On the other hand, Yogi Adityanath is considered a regional leader though he is a Lok Sabha MP for almost 19 years.
While Uma Bharati is 6th class pass, Yogi Adityanath is a science graduate.
Even though Uma Bharati is a sadhvi, she is identified also with her OBC caste status. She has a votebank of Lodhi caste in the Bundelkhand region of MP and UP. However, Yogi Adityanath has an appeal much beyond his upper caste Rajput caste.
WHAT NEXT FOR YOGI ADITYANATH?
Uma Bharati's tenure as MP CM was controversial. Besides the opposition Congress, her own brother Swami Lodhi had levelled charges of corruption against her.
Because of her wayward trait, she fell out of favour with party's central leadership, including her mentor LK Advani, at one point in time. This was one of the most important reasons why she was not reinstated as chief minister once she quit in order to appear in a court case in Hubli in 2004.
The question is: Will Yogi Adityanath meet Uma Bharati's fate?
Both Uma Bharati and Yogi Adityanath are vocal and are not considered disciplined soldiers of BJP. Uma Bharati was suspended from the party and even expelled, forcing her to form Bharatiya Janshakti Party.
Though Yogi Adityanath has not rebelled openly against the party ever, he is not considered an obedient party worker either.
Madhya Pradesh had seen three chief ministers between 2003 and 2008. She was succeeded by Babulal Gaur, who was replaced by Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
With so many similarities, Yogi Adityanath may go Uma Bharati's way. Or, he may prove different if he learns lessons from Uma Bharati's experience. It is a matter of a few months or a couple of years before it is clear what course do Yogi Adityanath and Uttar Pradesh take.