Emergence of Yogi as people’s CM

In Adityanath Yogi, Uttar Pradesh has at long last found a leader who is clear-headed, well-focused, action and result oriented, without being driven by the usual power ingredients of avarice and parivarwad as we have seen in most of the post-colonial rulers.

Within weeks of his installation as Chief Minister of India’s largest State, he has proved himself to be a person of character, substance and guts. He has put the people’s problems at the centrestage of his policies, postures and governance in close concert with his ministerial, bureaucratic and police teams. He has already built his reputation as a role model people’s CM whose promises and performance go hand in hand. This is a landmark development in Indian politics.

In Yogi, UP has a leader with a difference. His saffron attire might smack of his Hindutva flavour which is generally not relished by India’s brown sahibs and “secular custodians” of the Republic. I do not wish to go into the question of what is wrong where and who is right or who is in the wrong. In the absence of credible idealism, ideological moorings and principles, Indian politics has been running on divisive lines of caste, religion and money-cum-muscle power. Most political games are played to grab power for making money for the self and parivar at the cost of the public exchequer.

Yogi as CM is a class apart. In his first public pronouncement, he made it clear that “the government would not differentiate on the basis of caste, religion or gender. Development would be for everyone. There will be no differentiation.”

“Saab ka Sath, Saab ka Vikas” is not a mere talking point with Yogi Adityanath. This mantra seems to be his article of faith.

Of course, his installation as Chief Minister did create a frisson of fears and apprehension among the minorities. The secularists too had a field day forecasting Doomsday for Uttar Pradesh as the newly-minted Chief Minister was known for his fire-brand politics and inflammatory speeches.

But, the balanced and highly measured speeches and actions of Yogi Adityanath have flummoxed many of his detractors. The forward-looking CM has apparently belied the public perception about him. He has even declared that English would be taught at the nursery stage itself instead of class VI as was the case so far.

Yogi says that “tradition and modernity should blend.” A keen observer of the political scene summed up the surprising transformation of Yogi by quoting the old adage: “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future”.

Much of tirade against Yogi is politically motivated and hence misplaced. As a head-priest of Gorakhnath Math, he has had an excellent rapport with the Muslims working in his bastion of Gorakhpur. For example, Yasin Ansari, a Muslim, suprivises all construction work inside the Math for the past 35 years. He also keeps an account of the temple’s expenses.

Says Azizunnisa , “I have cordial relations with Chhote Maharaj”, as Yogi is popularly referred to….” I have never felt any disrespect or discrimination… He is a real saint.” Azizunnisa runs a shop.

Mohammed, chief caretaker of the temple gaushala, says, “I wake up at 3 am, milk the cows and serve them fodder. Chhote Maharaja takes care of all of us.”

Can we have a better example of a secular Hindu ? In fact, Hindus as a class and community are liberal and secular by birth, tradition and conviction. The rest is all part of dirty politics which our leaders more often than not practise for their note and vote purposes !

Just in a few weeks the Chief Minister has acted promptly on promises held out to the people during the election. He has already announced the government’s decision to waive loans of Rs 36,359 crore taken by about 94 lakh small and marginal farmers in the State.

This will surely not mitigate the manifold sufferings of UP farmers. The loan waiving off is just is a small step which should help the Chief Minister to attend himself to larger issues of deeprooted in the State’s farming sector. I understand Yogi has a comprehensive plan to revive the State’s agriculture and put its growth on healthy lines. His government has also announced 18-hour power supply to the villages. It will also ensure power supply to all villages before 2019.

True, some of Yogi’s moves have become controversial. For instance, his anti-Romeo squads in action which was promised in the BJP’s vision document. The basic idea here is to check eve-teasing crimes against women.

We all are familiar with UP’s track record on crimes against girls under the previous regimes. We also remember certain shocking statements of some of the State’s socialist leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav and Azam Khan in this regard.

The anti-Romeo squads are simply meant to prevent “harassment of young women students.” These squads are not part of Yogi’s earlier “love jihad” campaign in cases of Muslim men marrying Hindu girls. The Chief Minister has made it clear that those sitting in a park or are moving together “are committing no crime.”

He has also clarified that “police excesses”, if any, in this regard would not be allowed. The Chief Minister has stated emphatically that “harassment of girls is a serious matter and added, “because of this girls of all communities are forced to discontinue studies. This can’t go on.” (TOI).

Yogi is right. All the same, the going will be tough for the Chief Minister. UP is not an easy state to govern. He has to be extra cautious about his moves and public pronouncements.

It is necessary for the Chief Minister not to get lost in symbolic issues like singing of Vande mataram and people’s food habits. In this context, it will be worthwhile for him to listen to the sane advice from the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on the people’s right to life and choice of food.

It is equally crucial for Yogi to firmly check the rowdy and criminal elements who are enrolling themselves in the Hindu Youth Vahini. They are playing with the people’s personal life and privacy under the cover of moral policing.

Well, the Youth Vahini persons have no business to take the law in their hands. The Chief Minister must draw a lakshman rekha on their conduct in the public arena. Otherwise, they would only tarnish his image in public eyes !

Yogi has done well to assure that “those who abide by the law have no reason to worry. But those do not believe in the rule of law ought to be worried.” The rule of law principle would be equally applied to “illegal slaughter houses.” This issue has become controversial because certain vested interests have tried to give a communal cum political twist to the move.

In this context, it will be interesting to look at some unknown facts which prompted the BJP to include the axe on illegal cow slaughter houses in UP. I have at my disposal certain ground realities of rural UP coming from Alok Verma, a veteran of both the print and electronic media. He felt that something was missing in the explanations ladled out by the media in post-election results. He visited some of the backwaters of Uttar Pradesh looking out for some missing vital gaps. To the surprise of Alok, who is presently Chief Editor of Newzstreet Media Group, the poor bovine creature’s stellar role in the elections was either ignored or underplayed by the media.

According to him, the promised ban on illegal slaughter houses in the BJP’s election manifesto played an electrifying role– an issue that remained under the radar of both the media and the political opponents of the BJP.

After talking to a large number of people in the State, Verma found that the cattle theft was an endemic menace in the rural areas. Be a farmer or landless villager, cattle is the most prized or probably only property for them. And theft of animals was a common source of resentment in the villages. The stolen cattle used to be slaughtered by in the mushrooming illegal abattoirs which more often than not were in private homes and which acted as sales outlets as well.

For the owners there was no way to recover their cattle. “The system operated like the theft of brand new cars in the city which are dismantled and the parts sold in the market. In the case of automobiles, thefts leave some tell-proofs if the police can act fast. But once the stolen animal is killed and eaten there is nothing to prove the guilt,” says Alok.

If any victim of the animal theft approached the police, it was rather impossible to get a case registered for a variety of reasons ranging from inefficiency, reluctance of the police to admit crimes in their area and of course politics. No wonder, there a groundswell of resentment had built up against the Samajwadi Government known for its kid glove approach to crime.

Alok says that the last straw on the back of the camel was the incident related to the theft of buffalos belonging to Azam Khan, the most famous Muslim mascot of the Samajwadi Party. That the huge posse of police force was deployed to search the animals became a major media event. And obviously the incident added fuel to fire as the common man watched in anger and jealousy the egregious bovine discrimination.

These hard facts should silence all those communal and self-styled secular forces who have been beating their chest at Yogi’s move on “illegal slaughter houses” !

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