By Sushil Kutty
Modi, Yogi and Akki! The last is Akhilesh Yadav— the ‘lal topi’ up against the ‘kamal ka phool’. The Samajwadi Party chief doesn’t ordinarily spill wisdom. But when he does, he does not do it for effect—he does it for keeps! Mulayam Singh Yadav’s son is nobody’s fool. On the contrary, he trades gem for gem, coining his own wordage, taking a leaf out of Modi’s book, and Modi is the reigning wordsmith in the electoral roulette.
Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath travel a similar trajectory. At this point in time, both are “in office”. Akhilesh used to be “in office.” In 2017, Modi won the day and Yogi got the term. Ever since, Akhilesh has been plotting the ouster of Yogi, and his own return to “in office”.
It is not easy. Modi and Yogi are formidable opponents. Somebody asked Hollywood actor Glen Ford, “What do you call friendly?” and Ford replied, “Smile. Say hello.” Akhilesh Yadav has so far not “smiled” or said “Hello” to Yogi and Modi. He wants to skin them off the mandate to rule.
That said, Modi set the ball rolling—at an election rally he could not stop himself from being the showboat he sometimes is. He told a highly charged audience that “UP+Yogi, bahut hai UPyogi.” It was a message to the voter as well as to Akhilesh—“UPyogi” was constructed and trotted out for Akki the Challenger.
But Akki is no walkover. He turned, and returned the compliment in double measure. The Samajwadi Party supremo said in a burst of creativity, “Yogi Adityanath is ‘Unupyogi’—meaning useless, at the end of his expiry date.
Yogi Adityanath is getting expunged because Modi and Akki can’t hold their mouths. Also, Modi is bent on leading the BJP campaign in Uttar Pradesh, taking command.
Replying to Modi, Akhilesh quotes the Bhagwad Gita. “Yogi is a person who sympathises with the pain of others…The person who stays away from ‘Maya’ is a Yogi. Our CM Adityanath is the first ‘Yogi’ who landed directly on the CM seat after doing ‘Yoga,’ that’s why he is ‘Unupyogi’ and not a Yogi, from today onwards I name him, ‘Unupyogi Bisht.”
Whoever thought the hook-nosed Akhilesh Yadav could be so mean, and harsh? “Ajay Bisht” is Yogi Adityanath’s name plus surname he came by because he is his father’s son—the name and surname he dumped when he turned “Yogi” and took on the mantle of the head of Gorakhnath mutt.
Not satisfied with pulling Yogi Adityanath’s name through the rut, Akhilesh spoke of the “only CM who works 24 hours and increases unemployment.” Only “CM who works 24 hours and exam papers leak.” The “only CM who increased the electricity bill in UP?” “It’s not Yogi, it’s “Unupyogi. What are you getting from Digital India? The PM took a dip in Ganga, but our CM didn’t. He knows that all the impure and gutter water is mixed in the Ganges.”
Rubbing the “Unupyogi” further in, Akhilesh Yadav said rivers are not clean in the state and that even the CM knew that the rivers are not clean—“should the useless CM be removed or not?” Earlier, Modi, while laying the foundation stone of the Ganga Expressway in Shahjahanpur, proclaimed that the day will come when UP will be identified as the most modern state.
The feeling one gets is that Modi is positioning himself to take credit for a BJP win in UP. The Yogi, for all his “UPyogi”, could find himself discarded. “Can Modi be such an ingrate?” the question arises. But who is gonna ask Modi the question if the Yogi will be given a second chance to rule UP or will somebody else get the chance?
The Yogi’s claim to fame and success is that under his watch and guidance, Uttar Pradesh, according to the BJP, transformed for the better—more security to the women in the state, far better law and order situation and all-round development of the state.
For all that, there is the feeling that the electorate of Uttar Pradesh may not be inclined to give the Yogi another term “in office.” The fact that Modi wavered in giving Yogi a clear signal to lead the BJP’s election campaign was bandied about as a tussle between Yogi and Modi.
Now there is the feeling that Modi is bent on leading Yogi by the nose, which sends other signals. And Akhilesh Yadav is waiting in the wings to clip Yogi’s wings and he isn’t shy of giving it hard to both Yogi and Modi. The fight will get more intense in the days to come. The electorate will decide if the Yogi is “UPyogi” like Modi said, or “Unupyogi” like Akki retaliated. (IPA Service)