He likes to be called “Chief Minister Shri Yogi Adityanath Ji Maharaj”. This is how his name is written in every tweet from his official Twitter account.
In his official Twitter account, his introduction has been written like this – ‘Chief Minister (Uttar Pradesh); Gorakshpeethadhishwar, Shri Gorakshapeeth; Member, Legislative Council, Uttar Pradesh; Former MP (Lok Sabha – 5 consecutive times) Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.’
Rarely has it happened in the history of India when a people’s representative while holding a constitutional post, not only sits on his religious throne, but his deep shadow is also visible in the governance.
When Mahant Adityanath Yogi became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, along with religious power, political power also came into his hands, to always show this, the address of ‘Chief Minister Shri Yogi Adityanath Ji Maharaj’ was chosen. This mixed name of the Chief Minister and Maharaj is not just an address, it is also the strength, specialty, and flaw in the eyes of some people of their religious-political journey.
After he became the Chief Minister in the year 2017, Gorakhpur Press Club invited him. Manoj Singh, a senior journalist in Gorakhpur, recalls, “As soon as the Chief Minister entered the meeting, the journalists conducting the meeting stopped talking and said – Look, our Chief Minister has come, our God has come.”
“After this, the Chief Minister sat down on the stage and all the journalists present there went on stage one by one to welcome him and touched his feet.”
It is common in Uttar Pradesh to seek blessings of elders or be respected by touching them, but at that moment the feet were being touched by the Mahant or that of the Chief Minister, it is difficult to say. Manoj Singh asks, “If a journalist touches his feet, how will he do journalism?”
saffron color everywhere
It is also difficult to separate the two identities of Yogi Adityanath because he carries them along. In government documents, Mahant or Maharaj is not attached to his name, but even after being made the Chief Minister, wearing ocher clothes shows the same image.
Siddharth Geese, a senior journalist in Lucknow, explains, “If he is in power, people do what they like, behind his chair hangs an ocher towel instead of white, even if he goes to inaugurate the toilet, paint the wall with ochre paint.” Are being given.”
Once or twice a month he visits Gorakhpur and becomes a part of temple worship, religious traditions, and festivals. Photos of all religious activities are shared equally with their official social media handles. Religion is settled there everywhere. Small temples have been built in police stations. Every Tuesday, lawyers read Hanuman Chalisa in the district court of Gorakhpur.
Arrest and cow tears
Ten years before becoming the chief minister, in January 2007, Adityanath, the then MP from Gorakhpur, was arrested for making “speeches inciting communal feelings” during the curfew. Manoj Singh says, “Even then the police officer who reached the spot touched his feet before arresting him.”
“The effect of faith was such that in one of the reports on that incident in a major Hindi newspaper, a detailed account of a cow’s weeping from the Gorakhnath temple’s gaushala after its arrest was given.”
This religious dominance of Yogi Adityanath and the politics of radical Hindutva is visible in his administration. This is not limited to Yogi Adityanath, the state’s Additional Director General of Police has showered flowers on the Kanwariyas in a government helicopter.
Be it policies like Anti Romeo Squad, lockdown of illegal slaughterhouses, laws on the conversion of religion for marriage or their speeches, statements, religious and political power can be seen in unity everywhere. In a public meeting in the year 2021, he said, “Before the year 2017, those who called Abba Jaan used to digest the ration.”
In the year 2020, in the meeting of the Jaunpur by-election in Uttar Pradesh, he said, “If the people of love-jihad do not improve, then the journey of Ram Naam Satya Hai is about to start.” The opposition to inter-religious marriages has become fierce under his rule. It has come to be called ‘Love-Jihad’.
The term is used to refer to an alleged conspiracy under which Hindu women are being forced to convert to Islam through marriage. When the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was opposed, the Yogi government got some protesters guilty of causing damage to government property and put up posters of their names, addresses, and photographs in Lucknow. Many of them were also elderly human rights activists and retired senior officials.
The posters were put up again even after the Allahabad High Court ordered that the posters be taken down, calling it a ‘violation of privacy. After Modi and Amit Shah, Yogi is the only leader who campaigned for BJP in almost every part of the country, he went to Kerala and praised his UP model.
In the Lok Sabha election campaign in the year 2019 and before that in the Madhya Pradesh assembly elections, he said, “Kamal Nath Ji, Ali may be important for you, but for us, Bajrang Bali is everything.” In the year 2018, he said in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly, “I am a Hindu, so I do not celebrate Eid, I am proud of it.”
According to Saba Naqvi, who wrote ‘Shades of Saffron: From Vajpayee to Modi’, Adityanath has brought such a color of saffron under his rule which has never been seen before.
After the law against religious conversion in Uttar Pradesh, five BJP-ruled states have also brought laws along the lines of the Yogi government.
Saba Naqvi says, “Adityanath has full faith in his Hindutva, in the benefits of polarizing politics, that thinking is ingrained in his mind. Communalism was already flourishing in Uttar Pradesh but now he has seen and seen. It’s starting to come out in the open.”
According to journalist Vijay Trivedi, in the changing political scenario, people no longer want a ‘politically correct’ leader. He says, “Yogi Adityanath’s aim is not to create fear among minorities, but to mobilize them in his favor by creating fear among Hindus. People do not come together for a constructive purpose like on destructive issues. Babri Masjid demolition itself Remember me.”
The path from the student union to temple and politics
According to Vijay Trivedi, who wrote the biography of Yogi Adityanath under the name ‘Yada Yada Hi Yogi’, Ajay Mohan Bisht, born in a village in Garhwal in 1972, was inclined towards politics from the beginning.
In the biography, he writes that Ajay Bisht was fond of wearing ‘fashionable, shiny, tight clothes and black goggles on the eyes’ during his college days. After taking initiation in 1994, he became an Adityanath Yogi.
Bisht, who went to the branch in childhood, wanted to contest the student union election in the college, but the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, a student organization affiliated with the RSS, did not give him a ticket. He fought as an independent but lost. Ajay Bisht has completed his B.Sc from Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna University located in Srinagar, Garhwal.
Vijay Trivedi writes that ‘A few months after the defeat, in January 1992, a burglary took place in Bisht’s room, in which many documents required for admission to MSc were also lost. Bisht met Mahant Avaidyanath for the first time to seek help in connection with the admission and within two years he not only took initiation but also became the successor.
With initiation, not only the name is changed, but the connection with the previous world is also broken. Later in the year 2020, when his father Anand Bisht died after falling ill, Adityanath, who became the Chief Minister, issued a statement saying, “As part of the strategy to beat the corona epidemic and for the success of the lockdown, I will perform his rituals. I won’t be able to attend.”
After initiation, Adityanath Yogi started writing the name of Mahant Avaidyanath in place of Anand Bisht in the father’s name column in official documents. Mahant Avaidyanath was then the main face of the Ram temple movement. He had been a four-time MP from Gorakhpur and was the Mahant of Gorakhnath temple.
The relationship between Gorakhnath temple and power is even older. Before Mahant Avaidyanath, Mahant Digvijay Nath made it an important center of politics. He was also elected MP from Gorakhpur. On becoming the National General Secretary of the Mahasabha in 1950, he said that if his party came to power, he would withdraw the franchise from Muslims for 5-10 years so that at that time that community could assure the government that its intentions were in the interest of India.
Sanatanization of Nath sect
Historically, there is no discrimination between Hindus and Muslims in the Nath sect and there is no idol worship. The monotheistic Nath sect believes in the Advaita philosophy, according to which God is one and a part of it is in all living beings, they do not consider the soul and the divine separately.
Gorakhpur is mentioned in ‘Chitravali’ written by a poet during the time of Mughal ruler Jahangir. In this 16th century composition, Gorakhpur has been described as the ‘good country’ of yogis. A Sabad is also inscribed outside the existing Gorakhnath temple – “Hindu Dhive Dehura, Muslim Mast / Jogi Dhive Param Pad, Jahan Dehura Na Mast.”
This Sabad means that Hindus meditate on the temple and Muslims meditate on the mosque, but Yogis meditate on that Parampad (ParamBrahm, Ekeshwar), they do not find it in the temple or mosque. According to Gorakhpur-based journalist Manoj Singh, with the help of Mahant Digvijay Nath, the Sanatanization of this bench started, idol-worship started and politicization also started.
In the book ‘Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India’ on the Gorakhpur-based Gita Press, which publishes religious books, author-journalist Akshay Mukul writes about his deep connection with the Gorakhnath temple. In the published material of Gita Press, an attempt was made to form an opinion of Hindus on cow slaughter, making Hindi the national language, Hindu Code Bill, secularism of the Constitution, etc., in which temple mahants who had political influence played a role.
After the historic decision of the Supreme Court on the Ayodhya temple-mosque dispute in November 2019, Yogi Adityanath shared a picture from his Twitter handle in which former Mahants of Gorakhnath temple Digvijaynath, Avaidyanath, and Paramhans Ramchandra Das were seen with Ramshila.
Yogi Adityanath had written along with the picture, “Emotional tribute to Gorakshpeethadhishwar Yugpurush Brahmalin Mahant Digvijaynath Ji Maharaj, Param Pujya Gurudev Gorakshapeethadhishwar Brahmalin Mahant Avaidyanath Ji Maharaj, and Paramhans Ramchandra Das Ji Maharaj.” In the year 2020, the foundation stone of the Ram temple in Ayodhya was laid under the supervision of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
Chief Minister’s Staircase from Gorakhpur
Ajay Bisht’s political journey started in the true sense when in 1994 he adopted the identity of Yogi Adityanath after taking initiation from Mahant Avaidyanath. After this, it was almost certain to contest his next parliamentary election.
Five years later, at the age of 26, he was elected MP from Gorakhpur. However, then he had won by only six thousand votes.
Manoj Singh says, “At this point, he decided that he needed a support base separate from the BJP and he formed the Hindu Yuva Vahini, which was to say a cultural organization, but in fact, he had his army.”
He says, “Hindu Yuva Vahini’s alleged goal was to protect religion, the role of this organization in communal tension. Yogi Adityanath was arrested in 2007 while leading this organization.”
After being in jail for 11 days, he was released on bail. For ten years no action was taken in this case under any government. When Adityanath became the Chief Minister in 2017, the Home Ministry under him did not allow the CBCID to run the case.
In the year 2014, when Adityanath contested his last election, according to the affidavit filed in the Election Commission, cases were filed against him under several serious sections.
In December 2017, the Uttar Pradesh government amended the law to withdraw ‘politically motivated’ cases against politicians. The government retained the right to decide which cases would be considered ‘politically motivated.
Adityanath, an MP from Hindu Yuva Vahini, gained strength, and his credibility as a leader spread beyond Gorakhpur.
In eastern Uttar Pradesh, he would often insist on getting the Vahini people to get the MLA ticket and if the BJP did not agree, he used to take the step of fielding the Vahini candidate in front of his candidate.
Even after being made the Chief Minister, he does not hesitate to make his point in front of the party. Saba Naqvi believes that this is because of her popularity and the power of her supporters, which flourished on the ideology of Hindutva.
She says, “In a party that is under full control of Modi-Shah, where Adityanath can speak his mind, he is not at the mercy of any leader.”
“The Chief Ministers of many states have been removed easily but the party is not able to do this with them because in such an important state, who will they replace them with?”
Along with becoming the Chief Minister, taking many big decisions, his image became that of a tough administrator. Siddharth Geese says, “He was considered a hard taskmaster, the bureaucracy understood that it would have to work according to him, otherwise it would not work.”
According to Vijay Trivedi, “Not only making decisions, but it is also the Chief Minister’s style of working to know about his follow-up in the next meeting and take steps when the work is not done”.
Prime Minister Modi’s successor?
It is often discussed whether Yogi has become such a powerful leader that he should be considered a contender for the post of Prime Minister in the coming years?
Saba Naqvi does not believe so. According to him, “Adityanath’s statue in front of Narendra Modi as a leader is very small and he does not even know the tricks like building consensus and mingling with the corporate world to move forward in politics.”
She says, “Despite being able to make a supporter among the people, the administrative style of Chief Minister Adityanath is not popular.”
Even before the responsibility of running the state, he has been heading many schools, hospitals, and other institutions under the Gorakhnath temple.
Manoj Singh says, “The temple has been led in a very feudal manner, all the control has been in the hands of Yogi Adityanath and he is also running the government in the same way. Not even the MLAs, the ministers are unable to speak their mind.”
According to Vijay Trivedi, Yogi Adityanath has tried to learn a lot from the Prime Minister’s way of working, “promoting policies a lot, running the government alone, controlling the media, etc. But he is on the agenda of development along with Hindutva. Haven’t been able to work.”
This is when he has created a huge media network. Two separate media teams work in Lucknow and Gorakhpur, in which government, as well as outside agencies, have been employed.
There are three media advisors. Separate messages are prepared for newspapers, electronic media, and social media.
Legacy of Yogi Adityanath
Lucknow-based journalist Siddharth Geelhans says, “There are more big advertisements than ever before, documentaries of achievements are broadcast on channels.”
These included Uniform Civil Code, officially changing the name of the country from ‘India’ to ‘Bharat’, the ban on cow slaughter, the law against conversion, and the establishment of the Gorakhpur Bench of Allahabad High Court.
So what did Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath change in Uttar Pradesh in the last four and a half years? As an MP from Gorakhpur, Yogi Adityanath had introduced five private member bills in Parliament.
After becoming the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, he has made the law against cow slaughter more strict in the state and has brought a new law to ban religious conversion.
According to Manoj Singh, “It has been decided in this tenure that even a Mahant can rule and give voice to his fanatical views in the assembly and his policies.”
The police in Uttar Pradesh has always been powerful, but in this tenure, it has got more relaxation. The government in its advertisements counts encounters as an achievement and carries forward the chief minister’s image of being a tough administrator.
Courtesy of BBC