The first 24 hours in office for any chief minister are usually limited to the hype around the inauguration ceremony and its after effects. But when it comes to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, it seems that nothing is ordinary – his origin, growth as a leader and rise to the top post in UP.
His past and present credentials – as Mahant of Gorakhnath temple, an uninterrupted five-term MP, chief patron of Hindu Yuva Vahini, a fiery star campaigner for the BJP, and now as newly appointed UP chief minister – have made him a highly visible person in national and regional media.
Adityanath’s first words after assuming office on Sunday, thus, acquired particularly high significance. And more than anyone else, it was clear that he himself was acutely aware of this fact. It was interesting how many times he repeated the words "sabka saath sabka vikas" during his first official address to the media.
But more than anyone in the government, and outside of it, Adityanath himself needs to constantly remember and internalise this development catch phrase of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Time will tell whether he will be able to apply this mantra in a state with 22 crore people, one-fifth of whom roughly comprise Muslims.
Adityanath is aware that he will have to answer tough questions on his utterances against Muslims in the past. Only a fortnight ago, when the campaigning for the seven phase UP elections came to a close, he was seen dodging such questions – much like urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu had done, after announcing him as the chief minister designate.
Both of them seemed wary of the fact that even one word of Adityanath's loaded statements could make national headlines and thus increase the scope for varied interpretations about BJP's decision. For them, it seems that silence on the subject is golden and would go by the dictum that time is a great healer.
At one point during his address to the media, Adityanath said, "You have noticed our commitment to sabka saath sabka vikas during the oath taking ceremony." He was perhaps referring to the social and regional engineering undertaken in the formation of his council of ministers.
Of the 47 ministers who took oath on Sunday – including him and two deputy chief ministers – seven are Rajput (including Adityanath), 17 OBCs and MBCs, eight Brahmins, eight Vaishya, seven Dalits, and one Muslim. Since women representation is high in BJP – 43 women candidates were fielded of which 32 won – four of them were handed a ministerial berth.
Though the formation of the government and selection of ministers has more to do with BJP president Amit Shah’s management, than Adityanath's leadership.
Given the size of the UP assembly, Adityanath can go for an expansion of his council of ministers and induct about a dozen more ministers, if he feels the need to do so. As per the provisions of the 91st Constitutional amendment, UP can have a maximum of 60 ministers.
Adityanath's model of governance
His first order as chief minister was to the UP chief secretary, DGP and other top officials, where he asked them to ensure that "utsav ke naam par upadrav nahin hona chahiye (hooliganism should not be tolerated in the name of celebration)." The message was as much for the officials as it was for his own followers – members of Hindu Yuva Vahini, Bajrang Dal and other such outfits.
Adityanath’s track record, as five time-MP, of maintaining public order in his parliamentary constituency reflects his no-nonsense approach. Though his 'strong' approach has been disliked by many, with him at the helm, the psychological impact on mischief mongers – particularly those belonging to minorities – would be huge.
What Adityanath has to be on guard against is the 'mischief potential' of his own band of supporters – followers of strident Hindutva. If they feel empowered and stop fearing the law, the consequences could be unimaginable. Uttar Pradesh, after all, is the most communally sensitive state in the country.
Adityanath's biggest challenge lies in effectively taming his band of supporters. If he succeeds, by taking a leaf out of Modi's Gujarat model of governance, he would manage to achieve exactly what his party leadership expects of him.
His tough message to his ministers, some of whom are prominent leaders in their own right, that they shouldn’t speak to the media on any given issue is an attempt to contain their nuisance potential. In this regard, his decision to appoint Sidharth Nath Singh and Srikant Sharma – both ministers with experience in media communication – as spokespersons of his government is rather interesting. He is clearly following Modi’s governance formula.
Adityanath's other message to his ministers, directing them to declare their financial assets within the next 15 days, is equally significant. Besides this, he has also established his supremacy over his cabinet colleagues.
He is known to be a leader who gets what he wants, despite the fact that he has not always been in sync with party leadership.
While it is clear that Adityanath is bound to hog the public limelight, people of Uttar Pradesh can only hope that it is mostly for his positive actions.
Updated Date: Mar 20, 2017 17:57 PM