A new narrative has recently started gaining momentum in Uttar Pradesh. Certain media houses are furthering the idea of a supposed conflict between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. There does not appear to be any credible reason to suggest such a thing but that does not appear to have stopped media houses from flying kites.
Along expected lines, at the forefront of it is The Wire. On the 4th of June, one journalist named Sharat Pradhan wrote an article for the outlet. The headline of the article read, “Will RSS Be Able to Defuse Brewing Modi vs Yogi Tensions in Uttar Pradesh?”
On the same date, another article was published on Deccan Herald by the same journalist. The headline of this article read, “The curious turn in UP politics with Yogi-Modi stand-off”. The article said, “Yogi should remember the fate of Kalyan Singh who was reduced to a minion after he revolted against Vajpayee”.
Sharat Pradhan does not provide any evidence to back his claims. He relies on “speculations” alone to make such far-reaching proclamations.
Previous articles by Sharat Pradhan
Previous reports authored by Sharat Prdhan makes his biases abundantly clear. In one such report, he opined that the anti-CAA protests by women in Lucknow has given Yogi Adityanath the jitters. Since then, it has become evident that his handling of the protests has augmented his stature immensely across the country.
Not just Yogi but Sharat Pradhan is not too fond of Prime Minister Modi either.
Apart from these two reports, Sharat Pradhan has authored numerous other articles that make his bias against the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and Prime Minister of India abundantly clear.
Why rumours of a conflict between Yogi and Modi are most likely false
Apart from the biased source of the rumour, there are multiple reasons why a conflict between Yogi Adityanath and Narendra Modi does not appear likely. We should remember the circumstances in which Yogi Adityanath was appointed the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.
In 2017, Yogi’s sphere of influence was limited to a very specific region of Uttar Pradesh, Purvanchal. At the time, he was still considered a fringe figure in national politics and he was not even considered a frontrunner for the job.
There were other names such as Manoj Sinha and Keshav Maurya who were widely speculated to receive the nod should the BJP win the state elections. During the campaign, Narendra Modi campaigned hard and the party went into the elections without a Chief Ministerial candidate.
But during the campaign, Yogi Adityanath received significant space in the media and he gave lots of interviews where he was his usual politically incorrect self. It was not until hours before the decision was announced that the media got a whiff that he was to be appointed the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.
Needless to say, the appointment could not have been possible without the explicit support of the Prime Minister and then BJP chief Amit Shah considering Yogi’s stature in state politics at the time.
Yogi Adityanath has grown into the job
It was only after Yogi became Chief Minister that his popularity has increased manifolds. His great administrative skills combined with his unapologetic stance towards Hindutva made him one of the most popular figures in the party.
But this would not have been possible without the support of the Central Government. There is no indication that the Union Government has ever tried to undermine his authority. On the contrary, the centre appears to have trusted him with the responsibility of managing the state and aided his efforts whenever necessary.
Numerous infrastructure projects are underway in the state with cooperation between the centre and state. Simultaneously, Yogi’s vision for Ayodhya has the endorsement of the central government and the state government has received significant funds from the centre towards that end.
Most significantly, when Narendra Modi performed the Bhoomi Pujan for the Bhavya Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, Yogi Adityanath was present by his side. It was one of the most momentous occasions for the country as a whole and certainly, the greatest moment for the Hindutva movement thus far.
And the ceremony saw the attendance of both the Prime Minister of India and the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Unfortunately, Amit Shah could not attend the ceremony at the time as he was infected with the novel Coronavirus.
Thus, there is no indication at all that Prime Minister Modi ever tried to undermine Yogi’s authority.
Narendra Modi admires Yogi’s Guru Mahant Avaidyanath
The Prime Minister’s relationship with Yogi Adityanath goes much farther back than the Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections in 2017. In fact, in July 2016, Narendra Modi unveiled the statue of the late Mahant Avaidyanath in Gorakhpur. He mentioned that his association with the former Mahant of Gorakhnath Math goes back to the time he was not active in politics.
Prime Minister Modi had said at the time, “Be it the freedom struggle of India or the significant task of social reconstruction post-independence, Mahant Avaidyanath ji played an active role during both phases. He had added an another dimension to his life by his vision to ignite the social consciousness through pilgrimage centres remaining within the democratic purviews and then provided common people the benefits of a transformed situation. This vision is being successfully kept up with and carried forward even today by his disciple Yogi Adityanath ji.”
Mahant Avaidyanath is Yogi’s Guru and the latter was chosen to lead the Gorakhnath Temple by the late Guru himself. The Gorakhnath Math has also played a very critical role in the reclamation of the Ram Janambhoomi, a fact that the Prime Minister is no doubt aware of.
Three generations of the Gorakhnath Math, Mahant Digvijaynath, Mahant Avaidyanath and now, Yogi Adityanath, have contributed immensely towards the construction of the Bhavya Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. It is with good reason that Yogi said that building the Ram Mandir was his life’s mission.
Caste Equations in Uttar Pradesh
People who believe that there is a dispute brewing between Yogi and Modi often tend to negate the latter’s support for the former’s elevation to the seat of Chief Minister of UP by saying that local caste factors and Yogi’s own influence forced the central leadership’s hand.
But as we are well aware, at the time, Yogi’s sphere of influence was limited to Purvanchal. As for local caste factors, it is indeed true that they are likely to have influenced the decision. Yogi is a monk and a monk has no caste. Therefore, it helps the BJP transcend caste barriers in the state.
It is also for this reason that Yogi’s detractors emphasise the name he had during his pre-monk life. Ajay Singh Bisht, they continue to call him, but there are not many takers for their agenda because the ordinary Hindu is well aware that monks in saffron garb have no caste.
Concerted campaign against Yogi Adityanath
Soon after he became Chief Minister, there was a concerted campaign by the media, local, national and international, to malign Yogi’s image. He was branded the ‘firebrand Hindu cleric’ and a ‘Hindu Supremacist Monk’ and the ‘Warrior Priest’ by the media. And through it all, Yogi stuck to his guns and has emerged much more popular.
There were also times when Uttar Pradesh was in a state of crisis but Yogi continued to receive backing from the centre. The Kaafil Khan episode, and on numerous other occasions, Yogi’s administrative abilities were questioned severely. There were other times when supporters themselves questioned whether the decision to appoint Yogi was the correct one at the time.
Even during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, things looked extremely bad for Uttar Pradesh for a while but soon enough, Yogi emerged only stronger. And through it all, he received all the support from the centre, a fact that he has openly and publicly acknowledged.
There is no evidence at all to suggest that relations between the two have soured in recent times. Yogi Adityanath does not hesitate one bit to express his gratitude toward the centre and Prime Minister Modi, on more than one occasion, has appreciated Yogi’s stellar performance as Chief Minister.
The only bit that detractors have latched on to is the fact that Narendra Modi apparently did not wish Yogi on his birthday. One has to recognise the fact that we are speaking of the Prime Minister of the largest democracy and Chief Minister of the most populous state in India here, not hormonal teenagers in love.
There are much more significant ways to express unhappiness by either side than a damned birthday wish. Also, Yogi Adityanath is a monk. Birthdates are unlikely to hold the same significance for him as the Prime Minister surely knows.
The rumours are further settled by the fact that the BJP has already announced that they will go into the next elections with Yogi as their Chief Ministerial candidate. If nothing else could convince detractors, this decision definitely should.