In the sprawling campus of Gorakhnath temple in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, lies a beautiful Bheem Sarovar and beside it a temple dedicated to Bheem, the second of the five Pandava brothers.
The idol of Bheem placed in a resting position on the floor that is marked by several cracks. The tale goes that Bheem came to invite Yogeshwar Gorakhnath, after whom the temple is named for Rajasuya yajna, organised by Yudhishthir.
As Gorakhnath was in samadhi, Bheem had to wait and the land on which he was resting, fell. And in that memory the lake was built. The story is important here because in last few years the physical heft of Bheem became an allegory to the political clout and heft that the Mahant or head priest of the Gorakhnath Mutt, Yogi Adityanath yields.
Now the head Mahant is also the head of the state government in Uttar Pradesh. The controversial leader who is known for his unapologetic divisive politics, was very ironically chosen ‘unanimously’ as the Chief Minister of the most populous state of the country.
While reasons for Adityanath's elevation for the top post of the state will witness some high-decibel-deafening debate, what perhaps will be given less attention is how he actually forged this paradigm of power, that pushed him at top of political hierarchy, in such an unexpected manner.
Talking to people of Gorakhpur, who saw his rise in last two decades, it becomes clear that combination of historical reasons, unapologetic communalisation of social discourse and manipulation of unwarranted fear among masses, made Yogi Adityanath a leader who could bend Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to get the top post.
Consider this: In a city, with a more than 78 percent of Hindu population people, even youth, and even the educated youth, to a greater extent feel that they and their families are safe because of "Yogiji". A garment businessman from Gorakhpur who joined his family business after completing his graduate degree from Delhi University says, “Those have left the city will never understand that without him (Yogi Aditiyanath) this will not be a safe place to live”.
This rhetoric of Adityanath being the saviour of “Hindus against the onslaught of Muslims” has been intelligently built over the years. And it plays important role in creating support base for the new chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.
While communal polarisation has been the most important reason for the support of Yogi's brand of politics, other factors too play important role in it, which is acknowledged by people of the city at large, though not openly.
The Hindu Yuva Vahini, youth group, founded under the patronage of Yogi Adityanath has also an important role to play. Its volunteers were known to use strong-arm tactics in riots, cow-protection drives and to stop ‘love jihad’. It is the same organisation that fielded candidates against the saffron party in six Assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh.
“See, basically Purvanchal has lot of unemployed youth. They are easily swayed by the leaders like Adityanath whom they see as ‘Yug Purush; and ‘Hindu Hriday Samrat’. These are essentially young people who do not have job or proper employment. This badge of Hindu Yuva Vahini karyakarta gives them a sense of pride. And they are ready to do anything for their leader”, says a lawyer from Gorakhpur.
He adds, “Gorakhpur was once known for places like Geeta Press. But in the 70s, it witnessed emergence of bahubali netas and mafias. A new language of what we colloquially called bhaukal — which can be loosely translated into an ability to impress though larger than life image —emerged. And here is the leader who talks about destroying Pakistan. So, youth is bound to be impressed by his politics”.
“If you look at the statistics, in most of the places where his choice of candidates; like in Gorakhpur Gramin, constituencies in Siddharthnagar district, Sant Kabir Nagar, just to name few, BJP has won with very small margins. If it would not have been for Modi wave he would have lost all the seats”, said a BJP supporter in Gorakhpur who does not support Adityanath’s appointment as Chief Minister.
While talking to people who do not wear a saffron badge of Gorakhpur it becomes evident that lot of noise, empty rhetoric, unabashed jingoism and crude communal politics was what played an all-important role in the rise of Yogi Adityanath.
And what obviously added to it was religious and cultural importance that people of Gorakhpur attached to Gorakhnath temple, of which Adityanath is a ‘proud’ Mahant.
While supporters of Adityanath are “celebrating Holi for the second time in the month”, there are host of silent observers in the city who are hoping a miraculous transformation of their firebrand MP ; who has several criminal cases against him ( some of the charges include rioting, attempt to murder, carrying deadly weapons, endangering life or personal safety of others, unlawful assembly, trespassing on burial places and criminal intimidation) into a leader who maintains the dignity of the post that his party has bestowed upon him.
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Updated Date: Mar 19, 2017 16:51:14 IST