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Will Yogi Adityanath Deliver?

Will Yogi Adityanath Deliver?

For the BJP-Sangh Parivar conglomeration, the occasion of the elevation of the 44 year old priest-politician Yogi Adityanath as the 21st Chief Minister of UP is a celebration. But many others in the nation remain with bated breath wondering: will he or will he not deliver!

As a star campaigner for BJP in UP, as a five time consecutive Member of Parliament from Gorakhpur, and, more so, as Modi Bhakt, he has managed to grab the coveted post. His elevation from being the Mahant (head priest) of the Gorakhnath Math to steer the state may not be much of a difficult task for him for he has become adept in the art of national politics. 

Many think that his known hatred for religious minorities and his controversial and vituperative statements as a firebrand politician must have earned him the CM’s chair. According to reports going viral, there are more than 15 cases registered against him during his political career. The cases range from inciting ‘enmity between communities, insulting religious places, provoking riots, using banned and military grade weapons, intentionally increasing communal violence,’ etc. Police records show that he had also gone to jail under various sections of IPC.

It has been widely reported that when Yogi’s father came to know that his son was to be the UP chief minister, his response was, ‘I hope he will show respect for all religions.’ A genuine response indeed, given the trend of Yogi as a Hindu hardliner! His father was only articulating what every genuine Indian expects from the head of an Indian state.

While taking the oath of office as the new CM he vowed solemnly to abide by the constitution of India. Therefore, if there is any grain of worth in the man, he should disown his own visceral threats he pronounced against minority communities in the past. Did he really mean what he said as the new chief minister that he wants peace and harmony among all communities?

Being a Mahant he should be well versed in Hindu philosophy and theology and the nuances of ‘Rajdharma.’ Now, as legislative head of a state, the challenge before him is to convert this ‘Rajdharma’ into practice. Did not Kautilya in his Arthasastra describe ‘Rajdharma’ as the duty of the ruler to seek the happiness of the people? In the happiness of the people lies the king’s happiness; in their welfare his welfare.’

The Mahant should also know what his father is talking about. The latter is only spelling out what the Dharmakosha stipulates. Mr. Justice Rama Joise, retired Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, reminds us of Dharmakosha’s instructions: ‘The State is under a duty to protect every religion without discrimination...The king should afford protection of compacts to association of  believers of Veda( Naigamas) and also disbelievers in Veda (Pashandis) and of others.’ Joise quotes another gem of instruction from Atharvanaveda, Samajnana Suktka: ‘All should live together with harmony supporting one another like the spokes of a wheel of the chariot connecting its rim and hub.’ So what is the point in telling non-Hindus to go and get lost in Pakistan! Rigveda speaks of brotherhood and fellowship of all. ‘No one is superior, no one is inferior. All are brothers.’  (Rigveda Mandala S, Sukta 60, Mantra 5) The above quotes are culled from a lecture by Mr. Justice Rama Joise, at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bangalore on April 10, 1999.

Ever since independence we have had so many prime ministers, chief misters and ministers who swore by the constitution and knew what their ‘rajdharma’ was. Some of them tried to abide by the constitution while many others conveniently forgot their duty to serve the nation and pushed their hidden agenda or projected their selfie image. Rajdharma gave way to caste or community dharma. Inflated communal passion traded the secularity of the nation for divisive politics. Religious functionaries and mahants grabbed political power and used it as a convenient tool   to spread religious fundamentalism. 

An important question is, will Yogi carry on the identity of being ‘the mascot of militant Hindu sectarianism, reactionary ideas, routinised conflict and thuggery in political discourse’ as described by Pratap Bhanu Mehta in a recent article? (Indian Express, 20.03.2017)

Should one take seriously Mehta’s another stringent comment: ‘Hubris has set in’ with the elevation of Yogi as UP CM. Or, should one not give in to a charitable thought that the electorate has given him a long rope to prove his worth?

In the recent incident of Jharkhand Church leader Cardinal Telesphore Toppo’s presenting a memorandum to Governor deploring the state amendment of tenancy laws, he was severely criticized by BJP patricians and the Sangh Parivar.  Jharkhand State BJP chief Laxman Gilua said in this context that ‘ Dharm-guruon ko sirf apne karyakshetra mein seemit rehna chahiye’(Religious leaders should confine themselves to their given area of operation).  If that should be so, isn’t Gilua telling Yogi to roll up his mat and squat in the temple premises for his keertans and bhajans? But, surely, Yogi will not follow this dictat as the CM’s chair is a hot seat of power, prestige and a convenient tool.

But one thing is certain. If he does not mend fences with people of other religions which are part and parcel of Indian DNA and continues to engage in visceral politics with a hidden agenda and minority baiting, the nation will not forgive him. Amnesty International has asked Yogi to revoke his past inflammatory and provocative remarks against minority communities. Akar Patel of Amnesty’s India desk points out that it is ill fitting for a chief minster to harbour such sentiments of hatred and such attitudes should not become state policy.

One only hopes that, as the chief minister of a state, he will honestly and seriously fulfil his constitutional obligations vowed during his swearing in ceremony.

(Published on 03rd April 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 14)#