In the recently concluded Legislative Assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had registered a historic and unprecedented victory in four of the five states that went to the polls. It has retained power in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, and Manipur, while Punjab went to the Aam Aadmi Party. However, the real jewel in its crown was Uttar Pradesh. The emphatic victory of the BJP under the leadership of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state, is of far-reaching significance and has set new political paradigms. With the state contributing eighty seats in the Lok Sabha, it is not said without reason that the gateway to forming the government at the centre passes through Uttar Pradesh. The results of the Vidhan Sabha Elections – 2022 have not only paved the foreground for the results of the Lok Sabha Elections – 2024, rather, these results now put Yogi squarely on the national stage and among the frontline contenders to succeed Modi.
His impending victory comes despite the internal survey of the BJP conducted in June-July last year, immediately after the second wave of Corona suggested that the BJP may not be in a comfortable position to form the next government in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Under the guise of this very survey, a lobby in the party, insecure and apprehensive of Yogi’s growing stature, wanted to sack him. A large section of Rudali media also chanted a similar tune. Despite survey turning him down and saboteurs reportedly acting against him within his party, Yogi demonstrated tremendous grit and determination in the face of the election. He not only assured rather promised the top leadership of the Sangh and BJP a victory in the upcoming election, purely on the merit of his work. Ultimately, his faith and unflinching work for the last five years won him the mandate in March.
Anti-incumbency is an essential feature of Indian democracy. Dissatisfaction or resentment with the leader or party in the government is quite natural. It is impossible to satisfy everyone; rather, the dissatisfied class considers the actions and decisions taken by the government as inadequate and easily mobilises against it. This dissatisfaction with the ruling party or the leader is called anti-incumbency. Narendra Modi effectively circumvented this in Gujarat, Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Madhya Pradesh and Raman Singh in Chhattisgarh. On the contrary, they registered successive electoral victories by introducing completely new phenomena of pro-incumbency. This was an unprecedented achievement in Indian politics.
Earlier, the Congress Party in the centre and the Left Alliance in West Bengal had also recorded repeated electoral victories, but the credit for initiating the pro-incumbency is given to the Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states as the victory of the Congress and the Left coalition was more the outcome of ‘choicelessness/ lack of suitable alternative than ‘satisfaction with the government’. After almost four decades, an incumbent party held onto power in Uttar Pradesh. Similarly, not a single Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh who completed their full term was ever re-elected for a consecutive term. Yogi’s re-election for the consecutive term is a first of its kind and a record in the making. Apart from this, Yogi has put the ‘Noida jinx’ theory to rest. Since 1989, there had been a perception in the politics of UP that any chief minister who would visit the city would not return to power in the state. Refuting this misconception, Yogi Adityanath not only won the assembly elections by going to Noida several times; rather, he became the Chief Minister for the second term with far greater strength and confidence than before.
This historic victory of Yogi defying anti-incumbency, resentment and opposition arising out of the farmers’ movement, so-called mismanagement of the Corona pandemic, internal factionalism, exodus of backward caste leaders like Omprakash Rajbhar, Swami Prasad Maurya, Dara Singh Chauhan and Dharam Singh Saini etc., marginalisation of Brahmins theory and, above all, media outrage and hostility is of greater political significance. Further, it has clearly demonstrated that his trajectory is neither a flash in the pan nor a product of circumstances, rather, Yogi is here to stay. In fact, when all this was being projected against him in the media, the brand Yogi was taking shape in the minds and hearts of the Mooknayaks-the commoners of UP. This election result is a ‘silent-revolution of the mooknayaks’ and reaffirmation of Yogi as “lambi race ka Ghoda” in Indian Politics.
The voter of UP has long been tired of casteist and dynastic politics. Corruption and crime have been the inevitable outcome of this politics. The casteist family fiefdoms have made unprecedented records of harbouring corruption and crime while doing feudal politics under the guise of social justice. Appeasement of people of a particular religion under the blanket of secularism is a universal element of Indian politics. UP is no exception to it. Seeking everyone’s vote while giving power to the people of a particular caste and religion has been an essential element of politics for ages. Inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Yogi worked on the policy of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, and Sabka Vishwas. He runs UP with an iron hand, cracking down on big mafia gangs that earlier operated with impunity. This even earned him the moniker of ‘Bulldozer Baba’. Years later, the state’s restoration of law and order and the fear of government rule arose among the criminals. Babaji’s ‘Thhoko Niti’ created peace and tranquillity in the state and made the common man his admirer. Similarly, the on-ground implementation of all the Central Government schemes gave Yogi unprecedented popularity. Transparency and access to the real beneficiary (the common man) in various life-changing schemes, viz., Free ration scheme, Kisan Samman Nidhi, Ujjwala Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Prime Minister’s Toilet Scheme, mobilised poor and deprived sections of the society in favour of Yogi. It is worth mentioning that this category of people votes the most in any election. Antyodaya, the lasting legacy of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, is the philosophy of Integral Humanism, which means “uplifting up to the last person” or “the rise of the last person”. Yogi realised this philosophy by implementing the above welfare schemes under his leadership, thereby providing UP with an image of Uttam Pradesh. As a result of his tremendous work and policy implementation, especially at the grass-root level, the public showered him a lot of love and support. The active and dedicated BJP workers at the booth level had a decisive role in galvanising the support of the masses and converting it into quantum votes. The bantam attempts of the opposition proved to be a sand fort in front of the strong election management by Amit Shah and Sunil Bansal.
To achieve this level of dominance in Uttar Pradesh, both at a political and administrative level, was a mammoth task. The credibility of Yogi’s UP model: a crime-free, business-friendly, infrastructurally developed and civilisationally conscious Uttar Pradesh, is the biggest turnaround story of Indian politics for decades. Now Indian politics is becoming welfare driven, leaving behind 30 years old issues like Mandal and Kamandal. It is all the more propitious that common people are given due importance on the occasion of 75 years of Independence and are placed at the centre stage of Indian democracy. Now Indian democracy is in the real sense- of the people, for the people, by the people. The future of the state and the common people seem secure in the hands of Yogi. By adding a mild tinge of Hindutva to the recipe for implementing welfare policies and good governance, Yogi has undoubtedly changed the taste of Indian politics. This election result is also reassuring for the public as it has established Yogi as a credible alternative/ successor to Prime Minister Modi.
The image of a very strong-willed philanthropist-sannyasi-leader like Prime Minister Modi has created a new political brand, ‘Yogi Brand’, under his guidance. The Yogi brand will not only complement but will serve as an ally of the Modi brand in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. After this election victory, even though Yogi has become the undisputed No.2 leader after Modi, alterations are required in his political style to suit his growing stature. Moderation in language and behaviour is the hallmark of statesmanship. Clearly, Yogi is a great leader now. The simplicity and purity of his own life should also be reflected in the lives of his ministerial colleagues and bureaucrats. This will further glorify his image. The marginalisation of corruptionists, dynasts and criminals, irrespective of caste, religion, or party, should be his central pledge. A new direction can be given to the country only by avoiding compromises made in the name of compulsions of electoral politics and adopting the Antyodaya philosophy of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay. Antyodaya is the key to Bharatodaya. Yogi should ascertain the very fine line between welfare policies and freebies politics. The politics of freebies of the Dravidian parties of Tamil Nadu and the Aam Aadmi Party of Delhi is not healthy. This politics has ruined our neighbour, Sri Lanka. Yogi Government should see to it that their welfare policies do not become a replica of the politics of freebies.
Today, Indian democracy is falling under the grip of capitalists and criminals. From the newly formed Legislative Assembly of UP to the Parliament of the country, money, mafia, and criminals dominate. Most of the occupants of these legislative bodies are inherently jackals or herons disguised in white kurta pyjamas. Carpet and corporate culture are both present in Indian politics. The Indian democracy must be protected from such evils. Credible politics is based on performance and “for-the-people” perception, not “for-the-family” perfidy. Getting rid of this culture will be the biggest challenge and biggest achievement of Brand Yogi. It will be really fascinating to see how and to what extent will he be able to break the illusion of political compulsions of this era! The people of this country, especially UP, have high hopes for Yogi, and he has to repay this debt by fulfilling those aspirations in the next five years.
(The author is Dean, Students Welfare, Central University of Jammu)