In the recent 5- state elections, the BJP secured victories in the 4 states. The BJP retained Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Uttarkhand and Goa. The Chief Ministers of Goa, Manipur and Uttarkhand did not get credit for the victory. It was only in Uttar Pradesh that even Modi publicly talked about the Modi-Yogi government. “ Narendra Modi gave full credit to Yogi Adityanath for the UP victory and recognized that Yogi had earned stature for himself..
Till now, in the BJP, the ranking was Narendra Modi , Amit Shah and thirdly J.P. Nadda, BJP President. Yogi Adityanath figured nowhere in the rankings. Had BJP lost Uttar Pradesh, then Yogi would have been dismissed. It was a great relief to the BJP that it won Uttar Pradesh. If the BJP lost Uttar Pradesh, even the forthcoming President’s election in August, 2022, would have become a fierce fight.
In this backdrop, the media has been saying that Yogi Adityanath has become Number 2 in the BJP and being hailed as a future successor to Narendra Modi. If Modi retires, will Yogi take over as prime minister? Or will Yogi Adityanath be declared the Prime minister candidate, when there is a job vacancy for PM?
One thing is sure. The future cannot be predicted. The great French economist Proudhon said 200 years ago that “The future is endlessly fertile in unpredictability.” But in politics, there are endless speculations.
Common points between Modi and Yogi :
- Both Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath have spent their political lives without any attachments to families or relatives. Both are distant from dynasties. When Indian politics has become totally a dynastic profession, Yogi and Modi are totally without attachments. In India, where respect is still given to sacrifice and avoiding a family-life, both Modi and Yogi are similar.
- Both Modi and Yogi openly espouse strong right wing and Hindu ideas in politics. They don’t hide their Hinduism. Both are trying to revive ancient cultural traditions in India and also openly visit temples and rituals. They don’t hesitate to associate with saffron robes.
- Both have shown total opposition to Pakistan and have adopted a hard line towards Pakistan. Both support abolition of Special rights for Kashmir and both are strong in putting down terrorism without apologies. Both are unforgiving in acting against extreme activists who support violence.
- Modi and Yogi support a strong military for India. They support strong nationalism and with regard to India’s top enemies, namely Pakistan and China, they are ready to go any extent to oppose them.
- Modi and Yogi have similar views on issues like “Triple talaq’ and also ‘Uniform Civil Code “. They have openly said that they are against giving Minorities any special treatment, but hold the view that “everyone is equal and “sabka Vikas“, meaning development for all. To a great extent, in Uttar Pradesh, Yogi has given the same economic benefits to all communities.
- Both Yogi and Modi are strong disciplinarians. They don’t tolerate dissent or even alternate voices in the party or government. Their views must be the only views in the party and government.
- Both Modi and Yogi are also strong supporters of “law and order“ or “Public safety“. They don’t hesitate to use force to subdue mafias, etc. In fact, Yogi has run in Uttar Pradesh on a platform of “ strong law and order “ and got support of the people. More women voted for the BJP than for any other party.
- Both Modi and Yogi give great importance to the bureaucracies. Less importance is given to MPs and MLAs. They run ‘oft autocratic ’ governments. While this may seem efficient, actually only “one view” gets heard and thus many wrong decisions are made. Note Bandi was one such bad decision of Modi and poor handling of Covid by Yogi.
- Both Modi and Yogi give great importance to infrastructure development. They believe that this will lead to development. To some extent, they may be right. But focus on infrastructure has not reduced poverty or un-employment or solved farm problems. The economy has been the weak spot of both Modi and Yogi. Both have been unable to get results from the economy.
- Modi and Yogi also have shown political flexibility. When opposition to their actions or policies becomes excessive, they reverse the policy. Good examples are the 3 farm laws and the attempt to change the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, and other such efforts. Even the CAA Act has been held in abeyance, as there was opposition.
- Modi and Yogi pamper industrialists and don’t have faith in the public sector. They hold extreme views in this regard.
Differences between Modi and Yogi :
- Narendra Modi had a far more exposure in life than Yogi Adityanath. At a very young age, Modi left home and joined BJP and travelled all over India and met many leaders. Yogi was confined to the Gorakhpur Mutt and remained a Uttar Pradesh’ based politician, who never held national responsibility in the BJP. Modi had far greater exposure.
- Gujarat is also a more exposed and foreign-linked state than Uttar Pradesh. Narendra Modi as Chief Minister of Gujarat, was exposed to the outside world and intricacies of administration. Modi was also exposed to the Gujarati NRIs and got a worldview from them. Yogi had no such exposure at all.
- Narendra Modi was exposed to international relations as a top level leader of the BJP for many years. Exposure to Atal Behari Vajpayee also taught him many things. So when Modi became prime minister, he already had great knowledge of foreign affairs. Yogi has had no such exposure till now. India needs Prime Ministers who can handle foreign relations as much as they can handle internal affairs in India.
- Narendra Modi has great expertise in communicating with people of all backgrounds. Yogi has shown no such talent. But Yogi has recently been trying to change his image to a softer tone. A large diverse country like India needs talent to deal with all people.
- Modi has shown an ability to come up with path-breaking policies. The most important policy was “Swatch Bharat,” which tries to tackle the filth and dirt of India and the lack of toilets and hygiene. Modi also has shown some tendencies to tackle problems like too many rules and the difficult conditions of life in India. Yogi has shown no initiatives like this and maybe in the second term, he will show originality.
Will Modi tolerate the rise of Yogi Adityanath?
An important instinct of human beings is that they oppose anyone who is more talented or popular than them. Even the great Mahatma Gandhi could not tolerate Subhas Chandra Bose. The media is praising Yogi so as to irritate Modi. The media knows that Modi would not like anyone else to be more popular than him in the BJP. Some sections of media and the opposition are trying to create a rift between Modi and Yogi.
Yogi also has to be careful to perform better than he did in his first term. When Yogi became chief Minister in 2017, BJP got 320 MLAs. Now after his first term, BJP got only 275 MLAs. In 2014, BJP got 72 MPs from Uttar Pradesh. During Yogi as Chief Minister in 2019, the BJP got only 62 MPs. So there was a decline during Yogi’s time.
Yogi’s future depends on BJP’s performance in 2024 election in UP
If Uttar does well during 2024 parliament elections, then Yogi will have a good future. But if the number of BJP MPs decline in 2024, then Yogi will have a difficult future. There will be no change in Uttar Pradesh till 2024. But no politician is secure in a democracy. At any time, there can be rebellion.
If BJP wins the 2024 elections, then the future of Yogi will depend on how Narendra Modi views him. Narendra Modi is the best judge to see whether the personality of Yogi is only suited to Uttar Pradesh or whether Yogi can carry the heavy burden of leading India. Modi knows whether Yogi has enough common sense and shrewdness to lead India and whether he poses a risk to India. Winning elections is also not enough.
Too early to think of Yogi
The future cannot be predicted. The great expectations on Yogi may crumble and vanish. Aside from Yogi’s own future, any number of new challengers will come up. It is not enough for Yogi to satisfy Modi or the BJP. After Nehru died in 1964, the person who became Prime Minister was always a surprise.
The future is very far away and the future only brings surprises. For example, President Putin of Russia never thought that small Ukraine will fight back giant Russia. It is too early for Yogi to think of the future or for us to think of Yogi’s future!!.