Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath reached Valsad in Gujarat on Friday to campaign for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the poll-bound state. If the saffron mascot’s past political campaigns are any indication, there could be much fire-breathing in store.
Adityanath appears to have taken over the role of stoking communal passions and invoking Hindutva ahead of elections. Not very long ago, BJP president Amit Shah performed this role, most notably in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. At the time, Narendra Modi was projected as a statesman who promised development and an end to the UPA’s policy paralysis and corruption.
Meanwhile, Shah thundered at a meeting with Jat leaders in Uttar Pradesh, “This election is about revenge and about protecting honour.” This statement was made as the riots in Muzaffarabad and Shamli among Jats and Muslims were fresh in memory. He also said that if Modi was to come to power, the government of ‘mullah Mulayam’ would fall the very next day.
If Amit Shah stoked communal tensions in 2014 over the Muzaffarabad riots, Yogi Adityanath did the same in 2017 over the Kairana ‘Hindu exodus.’ He was quoted by Quint as saying at public meetings, “Western Uttar Pradesh is following in the footsteps of Kashmir. In 1990, Kashmir Pandits were forced to migrate in large numbers.”
Adityanath also raised the issue of ‘love jihad’ during his Janaraksha Yatra in Kerala last week. “Love jihad is a dangerous trend. The Supreme Court has already passed an order on it and the NIA is investigating it,” he said in Kannur. He further added that there is a need to replicate the Shankaracharya movement and that ‘Hindu culture must be protected’, The Times of India reported.
Yogi Adityanath’s abrasive political campaigning comes at a time when the BJP is facing increasingly sharp attacks over its development promises. This tweet by Rahul Gandhi is just one example of the barbs the BJP is facing.
Ladies & Gentlemen, this is your copilot & FM speaking. Plz fasten your seat belts & take brace position.The wings have fallen off our plane https://t.co/IsOA8FQa6u
— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) September 27, 2017
Adityanath’s other major rhetoric against the Left Front in Kerala — over its health indicators — backfired badly, with the Kerala government pointing to Uttar Pradesh’s poor human development indices.
— CPI (M) (@cpimspeak) October 4, 2017
However, Adityanath’s rhetoric could find more resonance in Gujarat, a state that has been carefully nurtured by the BJP since 1998. Modi, as would be expected, steered clear of communal posturing during his recent visit to Gujarat, focusing instead on relatively less controversial issues such as GST, the Sardar Sarovar dam and neem-coating of urea. The Uttar Pradesh chief minister could well be in charge of pushing ahead the strident side of saffron politics.