The dissatisfied MLAs, MPs and even Union ministers from UP have at present little choice
Soroor Ahmed | Clarion India
THE Bharatiya Janata Party has been caught in a bind. The big challenge before it is what to do with the chief minister of poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath. Till recently a darling of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, he was considered as a bright prospect and future successor of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But the way in which he has handled the situation during the second wave of coronavirus has certainly pushed many of his admirers to the back-foot. Even after the farmers’ movement many in the saffron brigade were hopeful that he would manage to overcome the hurdle.
Yogi was not the first choice of the top leadership of the BJP for the post of chief minister after the last Assembly election in Uttar Pradesh and he, with the help of a strong section of Sangh Parivar, brought about a sort of coup following the March 11, 2017 results, and went on to become the master of the state.
Ten days after the counting was over on March 11, he took oath as the chief minister of the state. The duo of Narendra Modi-Amit Shah – the latter was then the BJP national president – had to accept the reality.
So, for over four years Yogi was largely surviving on the support of a strong section of Sangh Parivar, which is looking at the things in the longer term.
Now 10 days after several brain-storming sessions and meetings the BJP finally settled on continuing with Yogi as the chief minister. True, removing him from the post of chief minister might never have been the agenda of the party, yet the party rank and file were alarmed over the manner in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, party chief J P Nadda and other top RSS functionaries met on May 23.
Apart from the situation arising after Covid-19, the poor performance of the BJP in
Panchayat poll, according to media reports, figured in that meeting.
Soon one name started doing the rounds. That was of a senior bureaucrat, Arvind Kumar Sharma, who was considered very close to Prime Minister Modi. He took early retirement from the service and was made an MLC in UP. All this had happened even before the emergence of the second wave and the rural local bodies poll.
It was then said that Arvind Sharma has been parachuted into the politics of UP to checkmate Yogi, who was going out of control of the BJP top brass.
Initially, the idea was not to make Arvind chief minister, replacing Yogi, but to get him inducted as a strong minister in the state cabinet, even if not the deputy CM. But Yogi, according to party sources, was in the beginning not inclined to even make him a minister of state.
However, after the mess created by the second wave of corona virus and Panchayat poll debacle, again news started spreading that the top leadership of the BJP wants Arvind to replace Yogi.
But this report could not be independently confirmed.
Whatever be the truth the fact is that the RSS was never eager to see the back of Yogi as everything may go haywire after his departure.
Not only will it send a wrong message just ahead of the Assembly election, it may give a big shot in the arm to the opposition, especially Samajwadi Party, which has gained a lot of confidence following the rural local bodies election.
Besides, nobody knows as to how Yogi and his strong band of supporters will react if he is booted out of the office.
As Yogi is two decades junior to Narendra Modi the Sangh Parivar does not want to demoralise this fire-brand asset as it sees much of the future prospect in him. He is the chief minister of the state with the highest population in India. He is the only BJP chief minister who has been sent for campaign in all the nooks and corners of the country. Not to speak of Lok Sabha and Assembly polls he was even the star campaigner of the party even in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation election held on December 1 last year.
Thus, after Narendra Modi and Amit Shah he is the biggest crowd-puller of the party. Compare him with any other CM, even of Gujarat, from where the Prime Minister and home minister come. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, is hardly known outside Gujarat. Even in neighbouring Maharashtra, where so many Gujaratis live and have a very large stake, Yogi is preferred over him whenever the Sangh Parivar needs to mobilise the masses.
Changing horses in the mid-stream may in some cases be justified, but what will the BJP earn by swapping after it has covered almost 90 per cent of the distance?
The BJP had already burnt its finger in neighbouring Uttarakhand when it changed its chief minister just on the eve of the completion of four years in office in March. The new face Tirath Singh Rawat proved a much bigger disaster than his predecessor, Trivendra Singh Rawat. The first thing the new CM did was to throw open the Kumbh Mela for millions of pilgrims. When things started going out of control his government, on April 7, wrote a letter to the Indian Railways requesting it to stop the running of trains to Uttarakhand between April 11 and 14.
Tirath’s move to overturn his predecessor’s decision on Kumbh Mela came even though experts kept warning him as well as the Centre on this count. It ultimately proved disastrous and led to the death of a large number of people due to the pandemic not only in Uttarakhand but elsewhere too.
The BJP leadership has now accepted the reality and wants to go to poll with Yogi as it has no other alternative left. As a compromise formula he has been advised to either expand his cabinet or make a reshuffle. Arvind Kumar Sharma may get accommodated. But that may be too little too late. The dissatisfied MLAs, MPs and even Union ministers from the state are just keeping their fingers crossed as they have at present little choice. They are realising that they are not standing on firmer ground.