Teachers are the primal psychologists. They smugly anoint the most mischievous in the class as the monitor, with telling effect – the entire class mellows down under the leadership of the now empowered former obstreperous mischief maker.
Much the same was said by Republican US President Franklin D Roosevelt, when he made his arch rival John F Kennedy, of the Democrats, the first head of the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC), the market watchdog in the US – it takes a crook to tame crooks! It is another matter that it was a mere political grandstanding, because Kennedy was by no means a crook.
Yogi Adityanath, the recently appointed chief minister of Uttar Pradesh might have been a firebrand, a rabble-rousing demagogue, but now that he is responsible for administering India’s most populous state, with a complicated caste and religious calculus, he would be forced to mellow down.
Being inducted into office has a mellowing effect. Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be, by all reckoning, the role model for Adityanath. His poll pitch sabka saath sabka vikas (take everyone along in the progress march) is not a mere catchy slogan. In fact, it was born of his governance record in Gujarat – the fruits of progress including electricity reached both Hindus and Muslims. Small wonder then, his poll pitch resonates with the electorate across the caste and religious divides.
Like Adityanath, Modi too was dubbed as a Hindu fanatic by his detractors. He astutely lived down this reputation by consciously eschewing contentious religious issues, both as Gujarat chief minister and later on as the prime ministerial candidate. He has scrupulously avoided religious issues even after becoming the prime minister.
During the heat of the Uttar Pradesh electioneering, he did refer to religious issues but only to emphasise that the ruling Samajwadi Party was discriminating between religions. Adityanath is intelligent enough to know that he must emulate Modi. And if he doesn’t, there would be a restraining hand of both Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, the duo acknowledged even by their detractors as the ones taking the party from strength to strength.
Modi has set an example not only for the political class but also for religious and cultural organisations. He has not rocked the communal boat by taking a principled stand on the Ramjanmabhoomi issue – the Ram temple at Ayodhya would be built only within the framework of the Indian Constitution.
The decks would be cleared by the Supreme Court sooner or later but till then, the issue should not be rushed precipitously is the dawning but unstated realisation of the party. Adityanath too would bide his time because he too would not like to go down as the one who frittered away the goodwill earned by his party, especially among a section of Muslims in the recent hustings. Office mellows one down.
Power may be intoxicating to a dictator but to an elected head of a country or a state in a democracy, power has a mellowing if not a humbling effect.
A democratic leader cannot run amuck because first he would be heckled by the opposition, then by the rival power centres in his party itself and if he still remains incorrigible, he would be thrown out by people at the next available opportunity in the hustings.
The BJP and its leaders know this very well, after a chastening 2004 Lok Sabha results. The ‘India shining’ slogan at first blush sounded catchy but it smacked of arrogance, angering the poor no end. Taking everyone along is a democratic compulsion, especially in a secular state with religious, caste and income diversities.
Indira Gandhi ruled for almost two decades by championing the cause of the poor. Modi has been emulating her, but with a vital difference – instead of giving the poor doles, he has been empowering them financially and otherwise. Adityanath, a keen learner, would hopefully emulate Modi. The humongous responsibilities of the chief minister’s office should in any case mellow him down.
Updated Date: Mar 20, 2017 10:57 AM