Election CM Yogi from Ayodhya, PM Modi from Kashi: Double impact Hindutva gaadi in UP | OPINION

Election CM Yogi from Ayodhya, PM Modi from Kashi: Double impact Hindutva gaadi in UP | OPINION


The announcement of poll dates finally injected the political oomph that “UP ke chunav” (elections in UP) are known for. Like a rehearsed ritual, the gloves came off. Parties and netas started making moves that have the meaty body blows delivering quality about them.

I recall that in August 1999 days before the first of the three phases of polling in UP, the then Chief Minister late Kalyan Singh had said, “Ye samay hawa badha ke aandhi banane ka hota hai. Jiske paanv ukhade wo ud jayega [the period after announcement of poll dates is the time to turn winds into blizzards. Those who lose balance will get blown away].”

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav made the first moves that created a loud political crunch. His photographs with some of the political defectors nine MLAs and three ministers in all abandoning the BJP till Thursday evening to join him instantly beefed up his narrative that “hawa BJP ke khilaf hai” (the wind is against the BJP).

Right now, it may not qualify as a big flashy head-turner development but it is something the BJP will build on and make it large. Simply put, both Yogi and Ayodhya template will get an upgrade.

In my assessment, if Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Union Home Minister Amit Shah say ‘yes’ to Yogi Adityanath’s candidature from Ayodhya and the BJP goes on to win the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, this deserves to be tagged as the most significant political maneuvres of this election.



I had clicked this picture of Yogi Adityanath in deep dark aviator sunglasses drive to the Lok Bhawan as a surprise CM pick while new BJP MLAs waited inside the BJP office along with senior party leaders M Venkaiah Naidu and Bhupender Yadav as observers.

He quit his Lok Sabha seat and entered the assembly as a Member of Legislative Council (MLC).

If Yogi Adityanath contests for an assembly seat, he would be the UP’s lone CM aspirant fighting the election as Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati aren’t contesting. Such moves do work for the voters as well as cadres.

The move has more political logic written all over it.

Uttar Pradesh in 2022 will vote for the first time since the Supreme Court order handed over land for Ram Mandir in Ayodhya to Hindus on November 9, 2019 and the big event foundation laying ceremony or the beginning of temple construction by PM Modi on August 5, 2020.

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The BJP will, for the first time, petition for votes for having delivered the construction of Ram Mandir. Till 2019, the BJP used to seek votes by promising a Ram temple in Ayodhya.

This makes Ayodhya high on political significance and possibilities for the BJP whose campaign core is expected to be Hindutva. By fielding Yogi from Ayodhya, the BJP hopes to amplify the agenda and messaging.

A senior BJP leader in Ayodhya said, “It will certainly galvanise the cadres. Ayodhya and Ram temple are big on voters’ mind. Fielding Yogi will make the template bigger and brighter. It will be Modi from Kashi, Yogi from Ajuddha [Ayodhya].”


The saffron-robed UP chief minister will get a direct insta-link to an issue that has forever been the pet agenda of the Sangh Parivar. The template “Yogi from Ayodhya” will mean Adityanath’s complete assimilation into Sangh mainstream.

Before 2014, he was considered a BJP leader who had ideological similarities but no roots in the Sangh. Compared to the Vajpayee-Advani era, the current BJP structure has jettisoned the last shred of bashfulness about a communally loaded agenda.

The post-Muzaffarnagar riots polarisation on communal lines which worked for it in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly election and 2019 Lok Sabha polls has abated.

The party knows that without a strong Hindutva narrative, it never wins Uttar Pradesh election. So, in the absence of an acute polariser, the BJPs campaign potpourri will be built on potent religious undertones.

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The plan is to have PM Modi and CM Yogi as the double-Hindutva engine, leading the central government’s pro-poor policies and the chief minister’s track record on law and order.


This Hindutva narrative has been in the works for some time and the Kashi, Mathura and Ayodhya themes are being kept constantly in play.

Some right-wing groups threatened to perform Hindu rituals at the mosque stands next to the Krishna Janmabhoomi [birthplace] temple in Mathura on December 6 (on the day Babri Masjid in Ayodhya was demolished in 1992).

Earlier, some groups had challenged the validity of 1991 law brought by PV Narasimha Rao government that provided legal protection to the Mathura and Kashi mosques from disputes.

In September last year, Yogi Adityanath as chief minister banned sale of meat and liquor in Mathura.

On December 13, PM Modi made a big splash visit to Varanasi for inauguration of the newly built Kashi Vishwanath Dham Corridor.


The central and state governments have pumped in lot of money, energy and attention on Ayodhya in the last few years. A provision of Rs 300 crore has been made for the construction of an approach road to the Ram Janmabhoomi temple, Rs 100 crore for beautification of tourism facilities, 27 rural road projects, 114 development projects along with a bus to international airport.

Yogi Adityanath has been spending his Diwalis in Ayodhya lighting lakhs of earthen lamps as part of the “Ayodhya Deepotsav”. If Yogi Adityanath gets fielded from Ayodhya, it would mean that the BJP wants him to inherit the fruits of these efforts.


The Ayodhya option presents the BJP to push some damage control measures. In 2017, he was chosen over Keshav Prasad Maurya, his deputy in the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) today, and Manoj Sinha, the present Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor to keep away dissent.

The BJP hoped various competing castes which support it will consider his “Yogi” status as caste neutral. The recent defections and strong open revolts by BJP’s core vote banks such as Brahmins over a period of time point to a unique situation.

The perception about the saffron-robed CM is that he bats for his Thakur caste. The BJP by fielding Yogi Adityanath from Ayodhya the BJP hopes some of the voters and cadre’s angst may get neutralised.

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All this can bring some electoral dividends if not substantial. Ayodhya is the link gateway between eastern and central Uttar Pradesh. The BJP has managed to beat the Samajwadi Party in Ayodhya every time the Hindutva factor became the political pulse since 1991.

In 2012, when Akhilesh Yadav was topping popularity charts, the BJP lost the Ayodhya assembly seat. Most of the wins before 2012 were scored by Lallu Singh, now Lok Sabha MP.


Sources claim that the proposal to nominate Yogi Adityanath from Ayodhya in the Uttar Pradesh election was discussed in a meeting on Tuesday. The meeting was led by Amit Shah with Yogi Adityanath, Keshav Prasad Maurya and Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh as participants.

However, I think a lot of impact assessment of fielding Yogi Adityanath from Ayodhya is lacking width and depth. The fact that Yogi Adityanath was and is keen to shift to Ayodhya (from his Lok Sabha constituency Gorakhpur ) is not being brought into the calculation.

A senior UP BJP leader preferring anonymity said, “Yogi needs to be an elected leader first. So, he has to find a seat. And, long before the current chatter started, there were indications that he was eyeing Ayodhya.”

So, why would Yogi Adityanath pick Ayodhya over home turf Gorakhpur?

Before I deal with the crucial why, I want to state some important trivia. If Yogi Adityanath wins 2022 assembly polls, he would be the only Uttar Pradesh CM who to get re-elected to the office after serving a five-year term.

ALSO READ | UP Assembly election: CM Yogi Adityanath may contest from Ayodhya

He will get a chance to beat the record of Dr Sampoornanand for spending straight six years in Uttar Pradesh CM’s office way back in 1960s.

Shifting back, Ram Mandir is going to be a talking point till the next general election in 2024 if the construction timeline stays on course. Once the temple gets ready, the inauguration will be done by PM Modi and the BJP will pour the credit on the prime minister.

But if Yogi Adityanath contests election from Ayodhya and the BJP wins 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, then in 2024, when the Ram Mandir is ready, Yogi Adityanath’s thunder would be second loudest only to PM Modi.


Yogi Adityanath may be standing one step behind PM Modi in political significance, and ahead of most party leaders who are Modi’s successors-in-making or thinking.

The Ayodhya link will cement his place as a Hindutva face and as a leader who has utility beyond delivering inflammatory speeches in election zones all over the country.

A senior RSS ideologue said Ayodhya was loaded in symbolism. He said, “No Hindu ever says Krishna Raj as Lord Krishna represents the Bhagwad Gita. But Ayodhya represents Ram Rajya. If Yogi Adityanath wins Ayodhya and Uttar Pradesh, he stands to gain a lot.”

But there is a flip side to the story. The crown always comes with thorns. The Ayodhya upgrade will mean that Yogi Adityanath would have to shoulder the greater burden of the Uttar Pradesh verdict, and thus not expose the PM to a UP loss, it comes to that.

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