Yogi on top: How BJP had to give in

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Yogi Adityanath is greeted after he was elected as Chief Minister of India?s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, during the party lawmakers' meeting in Lucknow, India March 18, 2017. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Delhi, New Delhi, India Mar 20, 2017, 02.34 PM (IST) Kartikeya Sharma

Despite a massive mandate and a chief minister at helms of affairs in Uttar Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continues to be in pains to explain the sudden elevation of five-time Lok Sabha MP Yogi Adityanath as the chief minister of India’s most populous state.

Senior leaders in the party continue to speculate on the sudden elevation of Adityanath despite the plethora of leaders sharing the dais with the new chief minister in Lucknow. Senior BJP ministers struggle to explain that Yogi Adityanath was the choice of the elected members, and BJP did not decide the name before the meeting.

Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Venkaiha Naidu, who had flown to Uttar Pradesh to settle the matter, told WION,” No name was given to me by the leadership. When I went to Lucknow and spoke to elected MLAs [Member of the Legislative Assembly], I realised that the sentiment was in favour of Yogi Adityanath.” Sources said that it was after this interaction that Mr Naidu spoke to BJP leaders including BJP chief Amit Shah, Bhupendra Yadav, Om Mathur and Ram Lal.

It was during this meeting, the proposal for appointing Yogi as the chief minister was moved by Suresh Khanna and signed by nine other members including Dara Singh, SP Baghel and SP Sahi. Naidu also said that it was Adityanath’s idea to have two deputy chief ministers to which the party had no issues. BJP for last 48 hours has been trying to give the impression that Yogi Adityanath’s elevation should be seen in this context only.

Though sources in the BJP give a different picture all together. Sources say that BJP leadership was very much aware of Adityanath’s political muscle as a senior BJP Cabinet Minister from Maharashtra had already briefed Amit Shah that Yogi enjoys support of 187 MLAs and 90 per cent of the BJP MLAs from eastern Uttar Pradesh were refusing to accept any other person than Adityanath.

Sources admit that top leadership of the BJP concluded much before the Lucknow meeting that bickering post appointment could affect the mandate, hence decided to lend support to Yogi Adityanath.

Sources also confirmed that Yogi on his part remained silent and did not threaten anyone. So, for the first time after coming to power in 2014, Yogi Adityanath was picked by the central leadership of the BJP because the ground response for Yogi was too much to be ignored. Once BJP leadership accepted the reality, they asked Yogi to accept two deputies to which he quickly agreed.

It is for this reason BJP has not been able to come up with a concrete reply on Adityanath’s elevation, as they would have to accept that the party was caught unaware of Yogi’s popular support, and had no option but to go with the popular sentiment.