Yogi Adityanath, after his appointment as the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, was in Delhi on Tuesday to pay the customary obeisance to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. Speculations were rife that Adityanath is already in disagreement with deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya over the allocation of portfolios. But it was his speech in Lok Sabha, reportedly his last one as an MP, that garnered the maximum amount of attention.
Known for his controversial, communally-charged speeches, the Hindutva leader's tone and language suggested a clear departure from his usual style as he made the right noises about development, anti-corruption and inclusivity. "In Uttar Pradesh, the new model of development will be based on 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas'... My government will be for everyone, not specifically for any caste or community... We will work for development of all sections and castes and create a new structure of progress," he said.
The BJP that fought the recently-held Uttar Pradesh election on the tried and tested development plank, it's the selection of Adityanath as the chief ministerial candidate came as a surprise. While trying to make sense of this decision, some came up with a rather weak argument: If you make the naughtiest student the class monitory, then discipline automatically follows. The man who once said, "Probably in the rest of Uttar Pradesh, Hindu women run away with Muslims but in Gorakhpur, Hindu men marry Muslim women and bring them home" can hardly be described as naughty.
For argument's sake, let's assume that Adityanath has renounced his hardliner ways and accepted development as his mantra, his views on women empowerment and equal participation will definitely prove to be an impediment in his road to development. Adityanath was one of the BJP MPs, who went against the party whip, and opposed the Women's Reservation Bill in 2010. On the website www.yogiadityanath.in, in an essay titled 'Matrishakti - Bharatiya Sanskriti Ke Sandarbh Mein', he writes on the importance of women's participation in the development of society, but limits the role of woman to a mother, sister, daughter and a wife.
He goes on to write that just like if energy is not channelised, it goes to waste and proves to be disastrous, a women's power needs to be reined in. He writes that women don't need freedom, they need protection and channelisation. His opinionated, but dubious take on women's freedom gets confusing, considering he has been equally loquacious about cows and their protection.
Continuing in a similar vein, he writes a father offers protection to a girl, in her adulthood the role is taken up by her husband and in her old age it is the son that looks after her. His myopic vision restricts a woman's involvement in the family structure. The struggles of a working woman might as be well non-existent for this leader.
At some point, he acknowledges women's contribution in the Independence movement and in the progress of the nation and lauds their successes in various sectors. He also writes that years of discrimination have pushed women in the background and that though women have made progress in all walks of life, it has been mostly witnessed in urban areas and in affluent families and writes that a lot has to be done in the rural sector.
Making his argument against the Women's Reservation Bill, he writes that the Constitution doesn't discriminate based on caste, gender or community, then how does reservation for women makes sense. He elucidates that it will only fracture the family and the relations between a man and a woman. He says it only politicises women's rights. He exhibits his shaky hold on issues related to gender equality and argues that if progress is made organically, then there is no need rush things up. At one point he talks about women's rights and equal opportunities and goes ahead contradicts his statement by arguing about the futility of the Women's Reservation Bill.
Adityanath also implies in the essay, the West-driven women's liberation movement can potentially prove to be destructive to the Indian family structure.
The newly appointed chief minister might be on track with the development agenda, but unless he stretches his imagination and recongnises the role of women as an equal stakeholder in the socio-economic growth of the state and not just limit to the domestic set-up, all-round development of Uttar Pradesh can remain a myth.
Updated Date: Mar 22, 2017 14:42 PM