On Saturday, the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) finally ended suspense over who would be the next Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh when it elected Yogi Adityanath as the leader of BJP Legislature Party in Lucknow.
BJP’s CM choice has come as a shock to many. A hardcore Hindutva leader, Adityanath is known to be a divisive and communal leader who has repeatedly advocated for issues like love jihad and ram mandir that clearly go against the grain of ‘pro-development’ BJP promised to deliver to UP.
Behind the elevation of the yogi to the CM’s position, therefore, lies a clear message – that Hindutva, and not development, comes first for the party, and that it no longer feels the need to veil this message behind the rhetoric of development. After all, we all know, Adityanath wasn’t chosen for his economic expertise, academic credentials or exceptional vision.
With the Yogi at the helm of affairs, the new UP government is likely to push harder for the following agendas (as mentioned in the party’s manifesto):
BJP is not one to mince words on this. The party’s 2017 election manifesto, openly bats for the construction of a Ram mandir in Ayodhya, at the site of the demolition of the Babri masjid in 1992.
“BJP has a clear view on those issues that is concerned with the preservation of our diverse cultural history. We reiterate our stand on the issue of Ram Mandir. Within the bounds of the constitution, for the construction of Ram mandir in the state, all options will be explored,” its manifesto reads.
Adityanath has also reiterated support for a ‘grand temple’ at Ayodhya with or without the Supreme Court’s consent many times.
Over the last three years, the BJP has consistently raised the issue of ‘love jihad’ – accusing Muslim boys of targeting and luring Hindu girls for conversion to Islam by feigning love.
And although none of the incidents pointed out by the party has stood ground when scrutinised, the allegations have still come thick and fast. Adityanath has vehemently spoken about love jihad too and how anti-Romeo squads will work towards ‘restoring the pride of women and end discriminations’ at his election campaigns.
Like the Ram Mandir, anti-Romeo squads too, find a clear mention in the party’s manifesto. “In Uttar Pradesh, every college would be provided with the anti-Romeo squad. Our girls would be safeguarded. These anti-Romeo squad would allow the girls to study without fear in college campuses,” as per the manifesto.
The BJP has repeatedly said that there has been a mass exodus of Hindus from Kairana in western Uttar Pradesh. Now that it is in power, it is very likely that we may also see a white paper on the alleged incident, as promised by the party in its poll manifesto.
Promising a white paper on the issue, BJP chief Amit Shah had also said that a task force would be set up under the DMs and SPs of districts who would be made accountable in such cases. The Yogi too has been demanding the center’s intervention on the issue for a long time.
“To stop exodus due to communal tension, a special department would be created and in each district, especially West UP, a deputy collector would be appointed,” the party’s manifesto reads.
The issue may still be in Court, but the BJP has repeatedly raised it. The party, in fact, claims that a section of Muslim women voted in its favour because of its stand on the issue, and has promised a referendum of sorts in its election manifesto.
During the UP campaign, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had also said that the Modi government was committed to end the “evil social practice” of triple talaq. “The government respects faith but worship and social evil cannot coexist,” he had said during a press conference in Lucknow.
Modi had also raised the issue in a rally in Bundelkhand in October last year, where he had pointed out how Muslim women could not be “ruined” by the custom of triple talaq.
The BJP’s manifesto is clear – all illegal and legal slaughterhouses in UP will be closed down once the BJP comes to power. The party plans to do this by passing an ordinance that will claim that livestock levels have dipped in the state due to slaughter and smuggling. Yogi Adityanath too, has raised this issue several times and so this issue is likely to get priority from the government.
While releasing the party manifesto, Amit Shah had said that he was convinced “temple and development can go hand-in-hand”. UP desperately needs jobs and infrastructure to get out of its present state and hop onto the development bandwagon.
The National Sample Survey estimates that the state will have nearly 1 crore unemployed youth by the end of 2017. More than 30% of its population still lives under the poverty line. One can only hope that in the mindless pursuit of mandir politics mindlessly, the new government doesn’t forget the real reason it secured this huge mandate – that of delivering real development to the state.