Right wing is here to stay
By appointing Yogi Aditya-nath as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, prime minister Narendra Modi and his Man Friday Amit Shah might have raised many eyebrows, but the decision to have a branded Hindu hot-head as the head of the UP administration in Lucknow, is in sync with their ideological grounding and larger political objective.
The politics of masks in BJP had ended long ago in early 2000s when Atal Bihari Vajpayee showed the door to RSS ideologue Govindacharya for mocking the liberal minded prime minister as only a face (mukhauta) shielding the hardliner LK Advani.
For Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, whose phenomenal ability to win elections has accorded to them some sort of a cult status, putting on a mask is neither an option nor a compulsion. The two have never been apologetic about their objectives and have been moving in the direction they perceive to be the best to beat the opponents in the great game called elections. While they continue to get a firm grip over the national polity, it is their detractors who still haven’t come to terms with their brand of politics.
Yogi Adityanath’s appointment is a natural extension of BJP’s campaign in Uttar Pradesh where the graveyards versus cremation grounds narrative was carefully built up to counter the rush by their opponents to seek Muslim votes. Prime minister Modi's personal integrity, the massive polarisation of Hindu votes decimating the caste boundaries and the resentment against law and order breakdown during the Samajwadi Party rule, were the dominating reasons that helped BJP in registering an emphatic win.
There is no rocket science behind understanding the BJP's strategy. Right from the beginning, Modi has set his eyes on serving at least two terms. It is a well-known fact that the road to New Delhi leads through Lucknow. The kind of successes BJP achieved in 2014 general elections and 2017 assembly polls will require a Herculean effort by the opposition to reverse as soon as 2019 when the next Lok Sabha elections would be held.
Liberals might be shedding tears over the demise of pluralism and mainstreaming of the fringe, but BJP has beaten its opponents by giving itself a head start. It is already working on the prospects of facing a united opposition in 2019. The Uttar Pradesh election results have given confidence to the BJP that it can beat even a united opposition. It will ensure that a Bihar-like debacle is not repeated in 2019. The grand opposition alliance, relying heavily on the consolidated Muslim and fragmented Hindu votes, can be countered by the BJP with grand polarisation.
Yogi Adityanath might be labeled as divisive communal bigot, but his constant trolling will work in his favour. The Centre will ensure that Uttar Pradesh walks on the development path while Yogi Adityanath will keep the Hindu sentiments in good humour. Call it over confidence or political shrewdness, the BJP had the time and space to indulge in this experiment. The party’s spin doctors have already started throwing a challenge to his opponents to beat him in elections as the head of Gorakhnath trust is yet to lose from his constituency Gorakhpur. The BJP has played its card. It is for the opposition now to counter it. It may be easier said then done considering the current state of the opposition. The Congress is staring at a vacuum, the stories from regional satraps isn't encouraging either.
Samajwadi Party has suffered a crushing defeat. The elasticity of the ruling alliance of JD (U)-RJD-Congress, which had defeated the BJP, is under doubt. Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress has only regional relevance. BJD will be busy guarding it's turf against a resurgent BJP. The southern parties are comfortable playing ball with the ruling party at the Centre.
In other words, the opposition will have to invent a completely new character to counter the BJP. The repeated attacks on prime minister Modi and on the Right wing ways of his party and leaders is not going to cut ice with voters.
One may or may not like it, but the mandate at the moment is with PM Modi and the BJP. The party is going full steam to consolidate its position in every state to ensure that the prime minister plays a long innings. If the game plan succeeds as planned, the Right wing narrative will be so deeply entrenched into the fabric that it will take a massive counter movement to undo it.
PM Modi has ensured that this narrative is served with a garnish of development and economic growth. The way he has survived a destructive move like note ban, it has given room and confidence for more experiments.
Gautam Datt