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'Trust in Yogi is gradually increasing'

April 04, 2022 14:24 IST
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'Modi's charisma and appeal is unparalleled.'
'Yogi has his own appeal and people connect.'
'He is seen as trustworthy, hardworking and honest.'
'People feel that these qualities are both common to Yogi and Modi.'

IMAGE: Ajay Mohan Bisht aka Yogi Adityanath takes oath as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh for the second consecutive term, Lucknow. Photograph: ANI Photo

The Uttar Pradesh election outcome has once again put the spotlight on the acute crisis confronting the future of Dalit politics.

"The BJP has raised Hindu consciousness among Dalits and the party's social schemes have benefited people of all castes," says Professor Badri Narayan who has widely researched and written several books on Dalit, subaltern issues, identity formation and the question of power.

His recent books include the Republic of Hindutva and Fractured Tales: Invisibles of Indian Democracy.

"Mayawati is unable to rejuvenate her voter base. If she takes the burden of responsibility of taking the BSP forward, it will survive, but if she doesn't, the party will be finished," Professor Badri Narayan tells's Archana Masih in a phone interview while discussing the complexion of politics in the run-up to 2024 and beyond.


What will be Yogi Adityanath's administrative and political agenda in his second term as chief minister?

He will continue the popular garib kalyan welfare schemes of his previous government and will further strengthen such existing schemes.

The focus will be on improving health infrastructure, increasing the road network and giving a fillip to business initiatives.

His political agenda will revolve around the developmental agenda. He will also be focused on maintaining law and order.

The political discourse will largely be centered on development. The BJP knows it has to deliver because 2024 is just two years away.

One commentator I spoke to said that he will build his political equity to be a prime ministerial candidate after Mr Modi? Do you think he will do that?

He will not consciously build his image as the PM candidate, but will focus on his performance and increase his connect with the people. In turn, this may help in creating goodwill for him among the masses as Modi's successor.

I don't think he will make a planned effort to achieve this. Instead, he will focus on his performance as chief minister which will enable him to create a bigger space for himself in the BJP.

Do you think he has the charisma, potential and appeal to be Mr Modi's successor?

Modi's charisma and appeal is unparalleled. Meanwhile, Yogi has his own appeal and people connect. He is seen as trustworthy, hardworking and honest. People feel that these qualities are both common to Yogi and Modi. The trust factor in Yogi is gradually increasing.

IMAGE: Bharatiya Janata Party supporters celebrate Yogi Adityanath's swearing in in Varanasi, March 26, 2022. Photograph: ANI Photo

What will be the situation of the Muslim community in Yogi's second term?

It will depend on the Samajwadi Party. If the SP follows the politics of Muslim mobilisation, it will further strengthen Hindutva consolidation.

If SP treats Muslims as just another part of the political structure, then issues like development will remain important.

Yogiji is already a Hindutva icon and does not need to project it.

He will continue to target the big criminals to maintain law and order, but that will not be his main discourse.

Akhilesh Yadav made this into an election issue because he wanted to mobilise the Muslims.

Yogi subverted it and, in turn, used it to his own advantage.

Law and order/security will be on the agenda and development will be his main focus.

I don't think he will isolate the Muslims.

With 34 MLAs, there is an increased Muslim representation in the assembly. What impact is this likely to have?

These legislators will raise issues concerning their voters, but if the SP makes that an agenda, then it will be difficult for them to defeat the BJP.

If the SP treats them just like other MLAs and not as 'Muslim MLAs' -- and raises important issues, this will prove as an advantage to the SP.

The SP and BSP have to struggle and fight to regain the trust of the people.

Is the BSP finished? Why did Mayawati contest this election so indifferently?

The BSP is in a precarious position. Mayawati did not work as hard as she should have. Her vote share has been reduced to 12%. She will have to work hard if she wants to remain relevant in politics.

Both SP and BSP have to actively engage in 24x7x365 politics. Their opponent is a consistent and formidable political player.

Politics cannot be done through Twitter from the confines of their homes. The Opposition will have to come out on the streets, only then can it gain the confidence of the people.

The Opposition is up against a party which is very committed to its politics and the expansion of its political designs.

The SP and BSP have to work very hard if they have to take on the BJP.

IMAGE: Bahujan Samaj Party Chief Mayawati addresses party leaders, during a review meeting in Lucknow, March 27, 2022, discussing the party's performance in the assembly election. Photograph: Nand Kumar/PTI Photo

Is the BSP finished? Will it become a marginal player?

No, the party is not finished. Mayawati will continue her politics, but only time will tell what electoral impact she has.

The BSP could become a marginal player if Mayawati is not visible. We don't know what is the political possibility of any other leader taking her space.

The BSP is already at the margins and it is very difficult to say anything definitive about the future of Dalit politics.

The BSP has to negotiate with the growing Hindutva consciousness among the Dalits and marginals, coupled with the social and developmental policies of the BJP.

The BJP has made inroads into the voter base of the BSP in various ways. The BSP is not working hard enough to rejuvenate its core vote base.

The core Jatav votes have largely remained with Mayawati and is more or less intact, but non Jatav Dalits have been divided among the BJP, SP and BSP.

A major fraction has gone to the BJP and some to the SP.

What is the future of Dalit politics?

Dalit politics is facing a crisis for the past few years. The reason behind the crisis is that Mayawati is unable to rejuvenate her voter base.

If she takes the burden of responsibility of taking the BSP forward, it will survive, but if she doesn't, the party will be finished.

The BJP has raised Hindu consciousness among Dalits and the party's social schemes have benefited people of all castes. The Dalits have their own aspirations and realise that Mayawati has not been in power for a long time to help them achieve their aspirations.

Whether the BSP will be able to reinvent Dalit politics will depend on how Mayawati is going to organise her politics in the future.

Sociologically, she has all that she needs because her core Jatav vote base is still intact.

Young Dalits will gravitate towards the BJP and anywhere else they see a space for themselves.

What are the social/caste and political takeaways from the election results?

Whichever party creates a larger caste coalition will emerge powerful. Caste consciousness has been subsumed into the larger Hindutva consciousness. Hindutva and Hindutva-based development will be the way of politics.

Democracy requires a strong Opposition, but the Opposition is weak even as the BJP is getting stronger.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

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