By Arun Srivastava
After losing the historic battle of Bengal and Narendra Modi’s image of invincibility lying completely shattered on the streets of Kolkata, the Rajput warrior of Uttar Pradesh, the chief minister Yogi Adityanath, has launched a blistering attack on the two commanders of the Saffron brigade, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah to make them bite the dust in the coming battle in Uttar Pradesh in 2022.
For a year Modi has been consistently testing Yogi’s nerves, but the Mahanth of Gorakhpur instead of reacting to his arm twisting strategy simply waited for his time. It came barely a month back and Yogi’s reaction was so intense that it shook the top leadership of the RSS-BJP to such an extent that it made them to huddle and work for cease fire. They deliberated for three days but the nature of the crisis was so acute that this was not enough to find a solution and resolve the crisis.
The top brass of Sangh Parivar probably for the first time could not provide a concrete guideline to the leaders as to how to face the impending challenges. Mamata Banerjee not only trounced the most powerful political party of the world, as is claimed by the BJP central leaders, but even showed the light of deliverance to leaders like Yogi to assert their identity. It is an open secret that almost all the tall and strong leaders of the BJP had turned dwarfs. How the leaders like L K Advani and Murli Mahohar Joshi and even Rajnath Singh are ill treated has been open secret. With RSS turning subservient to Modi, no leader could dare to raise his voice.
The fact is Mamata winning the battle has given a new lease of life to most of the BJP leaders. At the Delhi meet Modi and Shah who had been surviving on the aura of invincibility found it difficult to explain as to why they crumbled under the challenge of Mamata. Though Yogi was not invited at the meet, his words “arrogance of Modi was the prime factor” got reverberated in the meeting hall.
Surprisingly there were a few takers of Modi’s explanation of Mamata using violence to win the election, at the meet. For most of them it was an untenable explanation. Nevertheless the RSS meet agreed to urge the Centre to intervene and “take all necessary steps” to ensure the Mamata government acts against those engaged in post-poll violence. The primary reason for pushing this line was the fear of losing leaders, cadres and support base in run up to 2024 Lok Sabha election.
Till Yogi preferred to follow the dictates of Modi-Shah he did not face any kind of problem. True enough the duo went out of way to support him. Yogi had come to symbolise the terror against Muslims; brought in legislation Love Jihad; smeared the public faces of large number of intellectuals and academics and depicted them as anti-nationals and put them in jails, but Modi never questioned his action or asked him to restrain.
The clash of personality between the two leaders became public after Modi in recent time started resorting to coercive tactics to force Yogi to make Arvind Sharma, PM’s protege as deputy chief minister but the chief minister has not been listening to his dictates. The state already has two chief ministers. For accommodating Sharma one had to be dropped. Yogi is not willing to invite problems though he has been told that Modi will take care of all problems. Supporters and close aides of Yogi say that this is a move of Modi to curtail the freedom of Yogi and have all his works done through Sharma a former IAS officer who had worked with Modi in Gujarat and New Delhi for about two decades. He was elected a member of a state legislative council (MLC) in January 2021. Since then, he has been looking after Varanasi, Modi’s parliamentary constituency.
It is also said that Modi is not happy at the manner in which Yogi has not been resorting to strong actions against the agitating farmers. Modi supporters nurse the view that the farmers agitation has already weakened the BJP’s base in the Jatland of the state with Muslims and Jats joining hands after forgetting their past animosities.
Yogi has attained larger than life image. He owed his ideological birth to Hindu Mahasabha, the organisation opposed to RSS, but the RSS and BJP projected him as the pan Indian face of Hindutva, though Mahasabha’s concept of Hindutva is different from RSS. He was projected as the star campaigner for the BJP. His projection primarily owed to the saffron realisation that outcomes of the state polls in 2022, in Uttar Pradesh, will set the tone of the country’s politics. RSS intended to use Yogi for its electoral gains.
Now the time has come for Yogi to have his share in the power. He cannot play second fiddle for Modi for long. In fact he has made his intentions known. Almost all the brochures and information sheets issued by the UP government do not carry the pictures of Modi. While in all other BJP ruled states this is the must. This is the manifestation of show of power and strength. Incidentally Modi could never muster courage to ask him why his photo was dropped from the official papers.
Hindu Mahasabha leaders feel “Even today, the RSS is only concerned with power grabbing, and its offshoot, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has done nothing to save Hindu honour. Time is not far when we will start exposing the RSS gradually and show how it played with the sentiments of Hindus to grab power. The BJP and the RSS have only used the anti-Muslim stance to garner votes. It hijacked issues started by the Hindu Mahasabha. For instance, it was the Hindu Mahasabha that put Lord Rama’s idol in the Babri mosque on December 22, 1949. Even in police reports, the Hindu Mahasabha has been indicted for doing the same.”
For RSS Yogi is not a pariah. But it is also a fact since he did not cut his umbilical cord in the Sangh family he does not enjoy that amount of favour as Modi and Shah enjoy. RSS is dependent on the leadership of Yogi for winning the UP assembly election in March 2022, but it is finding it tough to ignore the charges of incompetence against him by the two leaders.
The spectre of an imminent war between the two camps emerged after Yogi conveyed in clear words his message to the RSS to ask the two public faces of the BJP to keep away from the UP elections. Yogi has warned that their indulgence would simply ruin the election prospect of the BJP in UP. This was primarily the reason that the RSS held three day meet in Delhi. But could not find a way out and resolve the differences. Since the path to the 2024 Lok Sabha passes through UP, the two are also scared of losing the track if they entered into any conflict with Yogi.
The fact of the matter is the RSS in its pursuit to create a band of dedicated and committed Hindutva vigilantes refrained from intervening in their areas of actions. Particularly the RSS chief allowed the situation to deteriorate. For last two years the office of the RSS was flooded with the reports from the ground level about the wrong doings of the two Modi and Yogi. But he never took them seriously. Bhagwat ignored. Probably he would have continued to ignore if the development would have started threatening the basic structure and future of the Sangh.
Bhagwat never pulled up Modi or Yogi for the death of lakhs of Indians due to corona. Like Modi, he too nursed strong hatred and contempt for the poor people of the country. Bhagwat claims to uphold the cultural ethos of India, but his silence and not shading even crocodile tears bares open his insensitivity.
The war of wits between the two leaders Modi and yogi has reached to such a level that even slightest provocation would cause serious damage to the BJP and personally to Modi. While the party observer Radha Mohan Singh on Sunday submitted a list of 200 odd legislators seeking change of leadership to the governor, Yogi has also made his intentions clear that he would recommend dissolution of house and holding of fresh election. This is fraught with the danger of independent assertion of Yogi of his stature and right.
With the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election hardly nine months away, the RSS top brass is expected to keep its ears close to the ground and take concrete actions to set things right. Retaining power in UP in 2022 is crucial for the BJP, and a good performance is considered one of the keys to Narendra Modi remaining prime minister in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections too. The RSS leadership is concerned of the “mismanagement” of the Covid pandemic, but more than that of the severe dent in PM Modi’s image that UP has contributed to. Hundreds of bodies floating in Ganga have sullied the image of Modi and his assurance to keep Ganga clean. (IPA Service)