Adityanath Yogi and his cow-love: The fringe is now the centre, what a journey from Nehru to Narendra Modi

With Yogi Adityanath as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, the wheel has made a full circle. Adityanath heads Gorakhdham peeth (also known as goraksha peeth), which virtually regulates the social life in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Terai region on account of its enormous clout over the region's political economy.

He inherits his political legacy from his mentor and father-figure Mahant Avaidyanath who along with his Guru Mahant Digvijaynath was a committed soldier of cow-protection campaign launched by Swami Prabhudutt Brahmachari. In the first Lok Sabha election in 1951, Brahmachari contested against India's first prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru from Phulpur constituency and lost badly. Though Brahmachari continued his campaign which eventually turned violent at many times, his views on cow protection could never find resonance in the main-stream politics.

Mahant Avaidynath who belonged to the Hindu Mahasabha represented Maniram assembly seat since 1962 and later represented Gorkahpur Lok Sabha four times (in 1970, 1989, 1991 and 1996) could never occupied the centrality in the mainstream Hindutva politics led by Atal Bihari Vajpayei and LK Advani. He was always on the fringe of extreme right politics.

But appointment of Adityanath is not only a clear departure from the past but also challenges the carefully constructed Nehruvian edifice of Indian polity that seeks to insulate religion from politics. Of course, it would be height of naivety to assume that the Mahant was appointed as the chief minister under pressure from the hardliners of the Sangh Parivar. Far from it , the most appropriate inference would be to say that what used to be the fringe element of Hindutva now occupies the mainstream under the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah dispensation of the party.

adityanath-PTI

And there is indeed a method in the madness. Look at the election manifesto in which the BJP has promised to shut down mechanised abattoirs all over the state immediately after the party takes over the government. The obvious implication of this decision is that the abattoirs that are perceived to be owned by Muslims would stop functioning. Its impact would be felt more by Muslims than Hindus as slaughter-houses for big animals are believed to have employed large Mulsims.

In parts of western UP these abattoirs have become a source of large scale social discontent and conflict. In rural areas there were complaints of stealing away cows and buffalos by miscreants to sell them off in those abattoirs. In these elections, the BJP took up this cause and promised to shut down all mechanized slaughter-houses. Obviously with Yogi in the saddle, this order has to come with immediate effect and the new chief minister with his image of protectors of cows would ensure that the order is implemented with ruthless efficacy.

In his Gorakhpur and adjoining districts of Eastern UP, Adityanath is known to have created an army of volunteers that brazenly takes the side of Hindus in a situation of communal conflict. The fact that Yogi’s aggressiveness finds legitimacy among local Hindus speak volumes about the partisan stance of the state under Mulayam-Mayawati and later Akhilesh Yadav’s regime. His volunteers took on gangsters like Mukhtar Ansari in Mau and Azamgarh in face of an adverse government and created a halo of savior for Adityanath. Given these credentials, Yogi would be best suited to assign the task of creating anti-Romeo squads that may unleash a reign of terror among those “Muslim boys” indulging in eve-teasing outside girls colleges.

Though the other political agenda of loan waiver for farmers and electricity supply can be take care of by others in the government, the unmistakable message of Yogi’s coronation as UP chief minister is reaffirmation of the party’s faith in “prakhar hindutva (full-blown Hindutva)” as its political objective. Unlike the past when Vajpayei-Advani pursued the line of a moderate Hindutva and tempered their discourse with an inclusive and acceptable language, the new BJP leadership does not seem to be inhibited by these limitations.

Is it not a strange coincidence that Phulpur which was represented by Nehru is now represented by deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, a hardline Hindutva posterboy of the Sangh Parivar ? Of course the defeat of cow protector Swami Prabhu Dutt Brhamchari in 1951 is believed to be suitably avenged today by the Sangh Parivar.The political spectacle at Lucknow on Sunday would surely mark a new epoch of politics which will be radically different from the past. The new BJP would be as unashamed about pursing the path of Hindutva as political goal as non-BJP parties were in seeking Muslim votes in the past. Ironically enough, all this would be done within the framework of the Constitution. It gives an explicit message: let us not shed tears about it as Nehruvian concept of polity is buried deep in today’s politics.


Published Date: Mar 20, 2017 07:52 am | Updated Date: Mar 20, 2017 07:52 am