The setback for ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Hindi heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in the assembly polls has not only come as a jolt to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the party’s top leadership, but also a disappointment for BJP Hindutva poster boy and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
The UP CM had addressed about 100 rallies in the poll-bound states and clocked more public meetings in Rajasthan and MP than Modi and other national party leaders, including BJP president Amit Shah.
Given his rising political stock and oratory skills, Adityanath had been in high demand from the BJP candidates trying their luck at the hustings, not only in the North, but even the Southern state of Telangana, where his speeches having communal overtones had made headlines.
In fact, Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh had sought Adityanath’s (who is also the head priest of Gorakhpur-based monastic order of Nath community) blessings by touching his feet before filing his nomination papers and kicking off his election campaign in anticipation of a comeback.
However, the poll results have come as a rude shock to the saffron party and put a question mark on the BJP strategy to deploy firebrand speakers like Adityanath to campaign in the crucial assembly polls hoping to consolidate the Hindu vote bank, while splitting the opposition votes. The game plan did not certainly pay off with the BJP staring at defeat in these states.
In recent months, the Adityanath government in UP had renamed Allahabad and Faizabad as Prayagraj and Ayodhya respectively to underline their unapologetic Hindutva agenda even in the face of stiff opposition by other parties, who charged BJP with playing divisive politics and furthering communal polarisation.
Interestingly, under his stewardship, BJP had earlier lost three crucial parliamentary and assembly bypolls in Gorakhpur, Kairana and Noorpur constituencies in UP to a united opposition.
Over the past few weeks, the CM had been busy in whirlwind tour of the poll bound states even as there was perceptible deterioration in UP’s governance and law and order situation, which hit the nadir during the recent mob violence in Bulandshahar district, in which a police inspector and another youth were shot dead.