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In Yogi, Hindus have chosen the kind of leader they want: No nonsense, nothing to lose, a Hindutvavadi with an iron fist

Just like Yogi Adityanath once left behind his identity as Ajay Bisht when he took the vows of a Sanyasi, walking on the path that PM Modi once tread, it is almost a forgone conclusion that he will ascend to the throne sooner or later.

“If they kill one Hindu, we will kill 100”, “Yogi Adityanath: The monk who owns a revolver, a rifle, and Rs72 lakh in assets”, “Yogi Adityanath is the face of BJP’s Hindutva project: Symbolism of the monk in saffron robes” and of course, the infamous “Militant Monk” cover of the Washington Post were some of the headlines over the years used by the global media to define Yogi Adityanath. He was vilified, he was abused, misrepresented and tarnished for fighting for Hindus. Not just that, he was disparaged for wearing his own faith on his sleeve, being the Mahant of the great Gorakhnath Math.

While reading the elephantine moronity of global and national commentators on Yogi Adityanath almost felt like waking up at dawn and reliving a mildly amusing, in hindsight, of course, campaign that the exactly the same elements ran against another leader who is, currently, at the very top of his political career. As soon as Narendra Modi was at that time chosen as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, the media went on overdrive, treading cautiously since, from the very beginning of his political career in 1965, Modi had been a staunch Hindutvavadi.

Come 2002, when riots broke out in Gujarat right after 59 Hindus were burnt alive by a Muslim mob, the vultures came out of hiding. Butcher of Gujarat, they yelled at the top of their lungs with those cankerous voices. They denied the genocide of Hindus to sling a rope around Modi’s neck and pull him down from his throne. The campaign lasted decades and continues to date. But like a phoenix, he rose. He was made to sit for hours of interrogation and came out squeaky clean. Their plans to assassinate him, their campaigns to vilify him, their impotent rage at a proud Hindu leading Gujarat and someday, leading the nation, came to nought.

Yogi Adityanath followed a similar trajectory. As soon as he became the Chief Minister of Gujarat, the global media along with the perfumed elite and rent-a-cause hacks screamed bloody murder.

“Adityanath (pronounced Ah-DIT-ya-nath) was an astonishing choice by Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, who came into office three years ago promising to usher India into a new age of development and economic growth, and playing down any far-right Hindu agenda,” wrote New York Times.

“Mr Adityanath is a Hindu priest who, while elected five times from his temple’s town, has been shown repeatedly to be contemptuous of democratic norms,” is how it introduces the “stridently anti-Muslim extremist”, wrote the Guardian.

Another article in The Daily, headlined “Meet the militant monk spreading Islamophobia in India” said:

“Adityanath is a controversial and deeply divisive figure for his militant, misogynistic and anti-Muslim rhetoric. He has been a vociferous supporter of a campaign called Love Jihad, ostensibly to stop Muslim youths from marrying Hindu women, claiming, without evidence backing this up, that the intention was to convert them to Islam. His supporters have called for digging up Muslim women from their graves and raping them,” the article reads.

In fact, in variably, the article in the The Daily ended up admitting the similarities in the trajectory followed by PM Modi and CM Yogi, albeit, with misplaced facts.

“The similarities between Modi and Adityanath are also pretty striking. Both of them are deeply polarizing figures in Indian politics. Modi’s alleged involvement in riots in the western Indian state of Gujarat in 2002 — although no court of law ever indicted him — had made him a pariah in national politics as well as within his own party. Adityanath, too, is reportedly unpopular within the party. And yet, the masses seem to love both because both Modi and Adityanath have been able to position themselves as custodians of the two most engaging symbols of Hinduism — the cow and the Ayodhya temple.”

The squalorous rants were deafening.

When they won, over and over again, none of the media houses tried to truly analyse why they won. One would expect similar headlines, now that Yogi Adityanath has won yet again with a thumping majority in Uttar Pradesh, defeating the equally squalorous SP, BSP and Congress. They would call him the militant monk who radicalised an entire state to vote for him. They would abuse the people of Uttar Pradesh as dirty heathens who refused to follow the diktats of their white and white-adjacent masters.

But it is not a mere coincidence that Modi and Yogi have cultivated the brand of insurmountable popularity they have.

When one thinks about Yogi Adityanath, one thinks of a saffron-clad proud Hindu monk who is no-nonsense, has nothing to lose and is therefore willing to take steps that other leaders perhaps wouldn’t and a leader who wears an iron fist for those who need it.

Given the history of Hindus, a people who have been massacred, humiliated and survived, it is no surprise that these qualities are what draw them to Yogi Adityanath. For aeons, Hindus have been told that they need to offer up their other cheek and die with a smile on their face when the Muslim hordes come to extract their pound of flesh. Historically, Hindus have been neutered to an extent that even the disrobed honour of their women did not push them to pick up weapons. Hindus have been systematically conditioned and manipulated to believe that they can never be victims. They were the aggressors, even when they were beheaded and thrown into wells, even when their faith was desecrated, even when their women were raped and men were left limbless. They were told that Muslims have the first right on resources even though India is the only land they can call their own. It’s the land where the ashes and memories of their warriors coalesce. It is the civilisation our ancestors died to preserve. It is the faith that they laid their lives down for.

For the first time since India became a political nation-state, a leader was willing to talk about and defend Hindutva. It was after decades that a leader like Yogi Adityanath was willing to say “We are Indians and Hindus are our cultural identity. Say proudly that we are Hindus,” the Chief Minister said, amidst a loud cheer, adding that he has no qualms in declaring that he is a proud Hindu. 

After all, Hindutva was and is nothing but Hindus trying to preserve their religious and cultural identity in a nation-state that by default villainizes Hindus and catapults to the Muslim street veto.

Hindus, who had either submitted to the tyranny of the state or paid a price for defending themselves finally found leaders who they thought would stand by them and fight with them to preserve what they were trying to live by.

The fact that Yogi Adityanath proudly wears his saffron robe and rules the largest state of India with an iron fist only adds to his charm for Hindus, a traditionally law-abiding people. When they tried to burn the state with anti-CAA riots, he confiscated their property and ensured they rot in jail. When the menace of Grooming Jihad became a stark, dangerous reality, he introduced a law to save Hindu women. When eve-teasing became a pandemic, he introduced squads to protect the honour of women.

As per the data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in late March of 2021, Uttar Pradesh has seen a reduction of rape cases from 59,445 in 2018 to 49,385 in 2020, with a charge sheeting rate of 77.1% in 2020, as well as among the highest conviction rate of such crimes today.

The state has also seen a sharp fall in instances of murder and cyber-crime. The NCRB has shared that the state government has also recorded a high rate of charge sheeting at 49.9% for cybercrimes. Police disposal of IPC crime cases has been positive with 2,81,162 cases chargesheeted in all (with a charge sheeting range of about 77%) and 3,65,628 cases disposed of, in 2020. Uttar Pradesh has seen a dramatic decline of almost 20% from the year 2016 to 2020, in cases of murder. 3,904 arms were seized from anti-national elements in 2020. There were about 1.6 murder cases per 1 lakh population in 2020. As per the NCRB data, the state went from 65,155 cases of violent crimes in 2018 to 51,983 in 2020. While the rate of total crime against individuals belonging to Scheduled Castes (SCs) has been 30.7% in 2020, the charge sheeting has been proactive with a rate of charge sheeting of 84.3% in 2020.

And the iron fist comes naturally to Yogi Adityanath given the illustrious Sampradaya he comes from. Until he was appointed the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath would say that the matter of Ram Mandir was not a political issue for him but his life’s mission. Unbeknownst to many, the Gorakhnath Muth has played a critical role in the reclamation of Ram Janmabhoomi in independent India.

In his blog following the verdict, Yogi Adityanath remembered the contributions of his Gurudev. “He used to say that Lord Ram’s virtues of justice, equality, discipline and sacrifice should be the ideals for every political leader,” wrote Yogi about Mahant Avaidyanath, “Following these words of my Gurudev, I consider Uttar Pradesh’s security, peace and Vikas my foremost priority.”

Yogi Adityanath also wrote, “When I took over as CM of UP, the situation of Ayodhya, which had become untouchable because of appeasement politics over the years, pricked my heart Ayodhya’s suffering was like the pain of Lord Rama’s Vanvas. I took an oath to bring back Ayodhya’s glory and develop Ram Janmabhoomi on priority.”

It is therefore no surprise that not just that of faith, but the material development of Uttar Pradesh is also a mission that was passionately pursued.

Yogi Adityanath’s win can largely be attributed to his strong-man stand on law and order, his unabashed commitment to Hindutva and also, his social policies that uplifted the masses from abject poverty and despair. Yogi brought senior cabinet ministers to the state to iron out pending issues and take better targets for his state to complete. Now be it Gas Stove distribution, construction of toilets or the construction of houses for the underprivileged UP is among the top achievers. 

For Yogi Adityanath, Bharat and especially Uttar Pradesh is his Karma Bhoomi and Janma Bhoomi and given the illustrious legacy of Mahant Digvijay Nath, one can expect Yogi Adityanath to transform the state not just to safeguard Hindus, Hindutva and the glorious culture that has been handed down to us, but also uplift the state economically and socially. Just like Yogi Adityanath once left behind his identity as Ajay Bisht when he took the vows of a Sanyasi, walking on the path that PM Modi once tread, it is almost a forgone conclusion that he will ascend to the throne sooner or later. This victory in Uttar Pradesh only brings him a step closer to that eventuality.

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Nupur J Sharma
Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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