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'Yogi played a bigger role than Modi in UP election'

By Archana Masih
March 20, 2017 11:01 IST
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'The new normal is Hindutva politics.'
'The BJP has has shifted the idea of India to the framework of Hindutva politics.'

Supporters celebrate Adityanath as CM of UP 

The selection of no other chief minister in recent times has evoked as much discussion as Yogi Adityanath's as he took over the helm of India's most politically decisive state.

Dr Manzoor Ali of Lucknow's Giri Institute of Developmental Studies, tells's Archana Masih that though he does not expect the revival of the Ganga-Jamuna Tahzeeb, the new chief minister should follow his party's manifesto of 'sabka vikas' without discrimination.

What does the choice of Yogi Adityanath mean for UP politics?

The choice vindicates the point of many scholars that this election was fought by the BJP on the idea of Hindu unity vis-a-vis the Muslim 'other.'

It was a communally polarised election where Yogi played a major role, even bigger than Modi.

The RSS used Yogi Adityanath throughout the state for communal polarisation. He campaigned in Western, Central and Eastern Uttar Pradesh.

So, his selection for the top post in the state is honouring the sentiment of communal majoritarianism.

Secondly, the decision was taken to satisfy upper caste Hindus who have been feeling deprived despite their share of representation in the assembly and jobs always having been greater than other social groups.

The issue was the command over the decision making process, which was with the Yadavs and Jatavs respectively.

In a nutshell, I think it is to satisfy the upper castes and continue the process of Hindutva.

He comes with long political experience in Parliament, but is also controversial for his hardline Hindutva. What can one expect from him as CM?

I certainly don't expect the revival of Ganga-Jamuna Tahzeeb.

Anti-minority is the oxygen of Yogi and his ilk.

He should go by his party's election manifesto and do 'sabka vikas' without discrimination.

How are Muslims and minorities going to view this elevation?

We can discuss the impact at three levels -- economic, political and social.

Politically, they have been pushed to become opponents in the literal sense.

The BJP does not have any Muslim MLA. The 24 Muslim MLAs are from the SP and BSP. So, they will sit in the Opposition.

Economically, Muslims will remain indifferent unless and until commercial properties are vandalised during riots.

There has been tokenism by other parties like the SP, which was blown out of proportion through communal propaganda.

Even this government will maintain that tokenism.

My biggest concern is at the social level.

The so-called Hindu unity/awakening will treat Muslims as new age 'untouchables' and any assertion will be taken as an offence by Hindutva.

Humiliation and fear will be an inherent part of their everyday life.

Is the Muslim honeymoon with the SP over?

No. After the Muzaffarnagar riots, it was believed that Muslims would vote for Mayawati.

Mayawati on her part stitched a Dalit-Muslim coalition which is not a natural alliance.

Mulayam Singh Yadav had built the Yadav-Muslim alliance over years and it was accepted.

It exists both at the organisational and government levels. Muslims find ownership with the SP.

They have forgotten Muzzaffarnagar and believe it was an act of the RSS and BJP, unlike Narendra Modi which they will never forget.

The BJP has said many Muslims voted for the BJP. What changes does this election portend for the Muslim voter?

After the 2014 election, it was also said that there was overwhelming support by different communities including Muslims.

When we calculated, there was a 1% increment from the previous time. 5% to 7% Muslims have always supported the BJP.

The logic of the BJP winning Deoband is the division of votes.

The votes that the BSP and SP won is bigger than the BJP. It is not the first time that the BJP has won Deoband.

The BJP's performance strike rate in reserved Dalit constituencies is 89%. In Muslim concentrated constituencies it is 52%.

When we say the BJP is winning constituencies with a high concentration of Muslims, there are two reasons"

  • 1. Division of votes.
  • 2. There are other available social groups which gravitate towards the BJP.

With the Samajwadi Party out of power and with a paltry representation in the UP assembly, how can it satisfy the aspirations of young Yadavs?

There will be some kind of frustration in the younger population of Yadavs.

Most who have supported Akhilesh Yadav on development are not opposed to Modi's agenda of development.

In fact, they are more comfortable with Modi's agenda of development.

They know that the UP government will basically be led by Modi and will fulfill what it has promised.

So there won't be frustration on the economic front.

But at the social level, this political combination will give a sense of social powerlessness to the Yadav community.

During the election campaign the BJP propagated that the fruits of the SP's development went to the Yadavs and Muslims.

The propaganda was on two levels -- the communalisation of the development issue and the Yadavisation of UP under the SP.

There was an urge at the grass-root level to teach a lesson to the Yadav and Muslim communities.

There will be a changed power equation and social friction, but not at the economic level.

Did the SP lose non-Yadav OBCs who drifted to the BJP since it is in a better position to fulfill their aspirations?

They drifted long time back.

The voter of Uttar Pradesh was unable to find an alternative to the binary politics of the SP and BSP.

Now they have got it in the form of the BJP and have shifted because it provides an alternative and a better economic model.

Moreover, the BJP has been able to manage the non Yadav voter well and has been working to win over the non Yadav castes for a decade.

The RSS is working at the cultural and social levels and bringing them into the fold of Hindutva politics by telling them that we are all Hindus, we should forget our differences and be one political unit.

This is bearing fruit for the BJP now.

The SP was late in introducing 17 OBCs in the SC list. They did it just before the election.

It is also the failure of the social justice movement in UP.

What is the future for Akhilesh Yadav?

He has emerged as the sole leader of the Samajwadi Party.

The party has moved to the second generation of leadership, not only at the top level, but also at the district and booth level.

As an organisation, the SP is in a better position than Mayawati to come back.

When we went to the field we found that people were voting for the BJP MLA, but their first choice as chief minister was Akhilesh.

He is popular, strong and has managed his image very well.

The SP has the support of more castes than Mayawati.

The BSP has turned into a Jatav caste party and even that support has become liquid -- open for others to grab it.

You said the performance of the SP and BSP represented the failure of the social justice movement in UP? What do they need to do if they have to remain relevant?

You have to look at the broader picture where they can reinvent themselves in a different form.

As I see it -- within the framework of secular politics, there was a continuum in the Congress starting from Nehruvian politics which turned centrist and then lately moved to the soft Hindutva line.

Now that framework has changed.

The new normal is Hindutva politics.

That is now the decisive framework of Indian politics. There are different continuums within that framework.

Vajpayee had a centrist approach while Modi has moved to the right.

At the grass-root level, the organisation is responding in that fashion as well.

The BJP has not only moved to the right, they have shifted the idea of India to the framework of Hindutva politics.

What are the choices and alternatives that other parties can create?

Can the SP and BSP provide that alternative or not is the question?

Whether they provide it within a secular framework or within the Hindutva framework with a different continuum is to be seen.

Even the BJP is balancing caste equations at the grass-root level with development at the macro level.

If Akhilesh only plays developmental politics, he knows it is not going to pay off.

They have to seriously go back to the agenda of social justice.

They have to move from Yadavisation to cater to the aspirations of other castes.

IMAGE: Yogi Adityanath's supporters celebrate his election as Uttar Pradesh chief minister. Photograph: PTI Photo

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