Monday, August 21, 2017
It was waiting to happen. The Hindu Yuva Vahini, that is expanding from Gorakhpur into Uttar Pradesh after its founder Yogi Adityanath became Chief Minister of the State, has irked the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Carefully planted reports in the media suggest that the RSS is not at all happy with this parallel outfit, that is outliving its utility by becoming too big. Even though it has been acting with brutal force on the Hindutva agenda of ‘love jihad’ and ‘gauraksha’ it clearly owes its loyalty to the Chief Minister and not the RSS or the BJP that are out of the loop as it were. And is not amenable to any suggestions, unless these are routed through Adityanath.
Adityanath has managed to virtually push aside his two deputy Chief Ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma who were also in the running for the top job when suddenly Adityanath was named as CM. Maurya at a recent meeting of the BJP state executive ---he is the president of the UP BJP---lashed out at the Vahini by saying that “outsiders” were getting preferential treatment, and the party members were being ignored. This was a reference to the autonomy of the HYV that is acting on its own volition in the state, and expanding rapidly. In fact its members have gone on the record to speak of a huge membership drive with “lakhs” of youth applying for the same.
The RSS concern is not without reason as the HYV is an organisation that was founded separate from it, by Adityanath in 2002. Adityanath himself does not come from the RSS, being the head priest of the Gorakhath matt owing direct allegiance to his precedessor Mahant Avaidyanath. Adityanath did embrace the BJP to realise his political ambitions and has represented Gorakhpur for five consecutive terms since 1998. The Hindu Yuva Vahini that acquired notoriety in eastern UP as a high communal and violent organisation, was raised by him and became his mouthpiece as when he was not made a Minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet in 2014. At that time leaders of the HYV were openly critical of PM Modi, making their allegiance and their politics clear.
While it has been a matter of speculation as to how Adityanath whose relationship with PM Modi has always been under a question mark was suddenly made the CM, it is now clear that the RSS is becoming uneasy within months of the Assembly polls. As the strength and influence of the Hinu Yuva Vahini is growing rapidly and as Maurya is reported to have said at the BJP meeting, through direct patronage over and above the conventional BJP outfits.
The HYV leaders have admitted to the local media that they are now the ‘mainstream’ and it is true that an organisation that was regarded even by the BJP top brass in the state as “fringe” has now occupied centrestage of UP politics. Referring to Adityanath as “Maharaj” this brigade rarely speaks of PM Modi and these Assembly elections were perhaps the first when after the state government came to power, it unleashed a cult of the new CM with not a reference to the PM. Adityanath and his men made it clear from the very beginning that the ‘priest’ was not going to work as a shadow of anyone, and was a leader in his own right. As reported by The Citizen, videos, songs, literature eulogising the CM in saffron robes appeared almost over night, even as the local media sang his paens.
This first warning from the RSS will in all probability be controlled with both sides pulling back a few steps to accommodate the other. It is too early for a confrontation by either, more so as Adityanath needs the support to establish himself, and the RSS does not want to be seen in a position where it is confronting presumably its own appointee. But given the ambitions that have been on full display since Adityanath entered politics two decades ago as a very young man, his success, and his ability to rally the youth behind him, it is highly unlikely that he will play second fiddle to any individual or organisation for long. All in all the run up to the forthcoming 2019 elections will be interesting, and perhaps even as surprising as 2017 when Adityanath emerged from the shadows as the CM of the largest state of India. Like the Shiv Sena, Adityanath and his Vahini also do not report to Nagpur. PM Modi does.