Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was recently in New Delhi and promised to work for everyone’s development. After his world vision expressed through his speeches, blogs and other pronouncements, he can only do better than what most of us expect of him.
But before getting down to his task in Lucknow, the yogi paid a thanksgiving visit to a veteran BJP leader, placed on the side lines as a ‘Margdarshaki’. The yogi could not miss this political pilgrimage.
Until the mid-1980s, the BJP and its predecessor were almost like any other political party, though it went the extra mile to campaign for ‘pro-Hindu’ causes. But most of this was done privately by the RSS cadre. Public campaign targeted the ruling Congress and on it being ‘undemocratic, dynastic, corrupt and anti-poor’.
Agent of Change
Things changed after Lal Krishna Advani took over as BJP President in 1986. It was the year when Rajiv Gandhi’s Government legislated to overturn the Supreme Court verdict that ordered Shah Bano’s divorced spouse to pay her alimony. Advani’s presidency also coincided with ‘Ramayan’ on Doordarshan turning into a Sunday spectacle in homes across India and the Vishva Hindu Parishad demanding a grand temple for Lord Ram at the disputed site in Ayodhya.
They provided a heady cocktail for Advani. His propaganda alleged that Muslims were appeased in India. The anti-alimony legislation done on pressure of extremist Muslim clerics was quoted as example of appeasement. Advani added for good measure that Hindus were treated as second-class citizens. How denying Muslim women their basic right made Hindus second-class citizens only he knew. The place of Ram’s birth was a faith that courts had no jurisdiction, Advani said.
The BJP won 86 seats in the following elections. Encouraged by the electoral dividend, Advani mounted a rath from Somnath to build a temple in Ayodhya. By the time Lalu Prasad stopped the rath, the hinterland was divided on communal lines.
The wounds of Partition were cut open. A property dispute in UP’s Faizabad district became a matter of prestige for millions of Hindus and Muslims across India. Several Hindus asked why Muslims did not go to Pakistan, forgetting the fact that Muslims who made a choice to stay back could be actually seen as more Indian than those who did not have to choose.
BJP’s political rise was steady from then on. However, huge sections in the English media criticised its Hindutva agenda. Advani overlooked them and cultivated his team of media lackeys who praised the BJP’s ‘progressive outlook’. They devised a term for the rest: ‘Pseudo-secularists,’ the same employed by Advani for parties that opposed BJP for its pro-Hindutva agenda.
Advani, however, discovered that this was not enough for the BJP to capture New Delhi, even after the Congress was in a shambles. The rabble rouser suddenly became the most amiable and intellectual person, but the sudden makeover could not help him become India’s PM as his original supporters felt betrayed.
Soon, his disciple became his challenger. Narendra Modi realised that softening the Hindutva line was where Advani faltered. He spoke his mind. “Even if a puppy get crushed under a car, one would feel sad,” was his answer when Reuters asked him about the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat.
By now, the media had been trained and tamed too, because proprietors’ priority was to make money by inviting the PM and ministers for sponsored events. The Adivasis of Gujarat’s Banaskantha gave a clear picture on ‘Sab Ka Vikaas’, yet Modi became a development icon for the media in 2014.
For almost 3 years, the nation waited for ‘Sab Ka Vikaas’. Finally, things have started moving. After the NDA won UP by a four-fifths majority on March 11, many BJP MLAs meeting each other for the first time had just one name on their lips as leader of the legislature party.
Unlike Congressmen who say that they don’t know who should be their leader and passed a resolution for the high command to select their leader, many of these first-time MLAs were clear their leader had to be a yogi.
Consider yourself ignorant if you lived under the impression that a yogi is an ascetic who has renounced the world. The BJP had the world’s first woman monk Chief Minister in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh almost 15 years ago. ‘Sanyasi Politician’ may sound an oxymoron but it looks like a much brighter fate than Uma Bharati’s awaits Yogi Adityanath in Uttar Pradesh.
By a strange coincidence, the property dispute in Ayodhya, lagging in courts for almost seven decades, suddenly found mention in the court of the Chief Justice of India. The CJI prodded parties to the dispute to find an out of court settlement, which they have never been able to do for seven decades. He offered his service, or that of any fellow judge of litigants’ choice, for the purpose.
Finding a judge acceptable to both sides may not be as difficult as it was in the past. And explaining matters related to Hindu faith and why Muslims should accept a Masjid across the banks of the Sarayu was Subramanian Swamy, the man who was not even a party to the case until recently.
But then Swamy is a man for all seasons. Whether the airwaves have been ‘sold for a penny’ or Rahul Gandhi ‘made pecuniary gain’ from the estates of the National Herald or whether the coral reefs in Rameshwaram constitute remnants of the bridge vanars built across for Lord Ram are all matters on which the nation and the courts need Swamy’s help. I wonder what the nation would have done without such a man on national duty.
The Chief Minister of UP is the Mahant from Goraknath Mutt. His immediate predecessor was an accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case. It was followers of this mutt that placed the idol of Ram inside the mosque in 1949. His ascendancy to the Lucknow throne cannot be just another incident.
We could soon see ‘magnanimity’ by litigants. Don’t commit the mistake of calling it coercion because by being magnanimous, the litigants could get a Masjid built free by the marauders of the original mosque.
We all have to personally thank the Margdarshaki from Sindh for showing us the way and setting the priorities right for Hindustan in the 1980s. We need to thank him for ‘filling in’ the period between Partition and global Islamic extremism by taking up the Ram Mandir cause. Once the Ram Temple is built, India can be said to have attained development.
( firstname.lastname@example.org)#(Published on 27th March 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 13)