Yogi Adityanath’s farewell speech-his ride to redemption?

By Advait Moharir

Indian politics has shown its true colours yet again, this time with Yogi Adityanath being sworn in as the next Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Infamous for his controversial remarks, Adityanath is known for calling minorities a problem and asking Suryanamaskar haters to drown themselves in the ocean. However, Adityanath, the five-time MP from Gorakhpur, chose to speak a different language while giving his farewell speech in the Lok Sabha.

A clear allegiance

Adityanath is not new to parliamentary parlance, he is well-known for his oratory skills and punchy speeches. This talent was put to the test in his farewell address to the House, an address delivered as part of the discussion on the Finance Bill. The newly appointed CM began by praising the Modi government, pointing out to the fact that despite inheriting a “destabilised” economy from its predecessor, the Modi-led government saw a rise in the growth of the economy. Adityanath did not forget to discuss his own tenure as an MP, talking about how PM Modi had responded to his pleas for the development of Gorakhpur, where other governments had turned a deaf ear. Not only did he highlight the role of the Ujjwala Yojana (which ensures that every household has an LPG connection) but he also brought up the PM’s personal involvement in the establishment of a fertiliser factory (a factory, that has been closed for the last twenty years) These references, especially those pertaining to his constituency are all part of Adityanath’s strategy, one that includes pledging allegiance to Modi and the BJP. This newly found loyalty is a result of the reports that suggest Adityanath wasn’t the PM’s first choice for the CM of Uttar Pradesh.

Adityanath did not spare the Opposition, he pointed out the hypocrisy of the situation where politicians who posed as champions of the Dalits and other minorities did nothing while their brethren suffered from Encephalitis. Using this argument, Adityanath managed to voice his support for the minority classes of India. The former MP also talked about how Gorakhpur was once known for violence and strife and it was during his tenure that this image was shattered with the end of both, the Rangdari tax and communal violence.

The game-changer

Clearly, Adityanath’s speech was an effective exercise aimed at changing his longstanding image. By crafting a narrative of development, inclusiveness and administrative efficiency, Adityanath has managed to quell rumours of communal polarisation. Using this speech as a medium to indicate the stance of his administration, Adityanath stated that he will not tolerate a number of things-which is now evident with the imposition of the blanket ban on slaughterhouses, gutka in government offices and red beacons on cars in the state of Uttar Pradesh. 

An enormous gamble

The desire to consolidate the Hindu vote bank was the driving force behind BJP’s decision to make Adityanath CM, owing to the fact that this former MP belongs to the Nath tradition, which is effectively casteless. However, Adityanath’s past continues to haunt him. His staunch pro-Hindu stance and a long history of insensitivity towards minority classes casts a shadow of doubt over his secular attitude, however well intended his speech might be. With many Muslims voting for the BJP in large numbers despite the absence of Muslim candidates, Adityanath’s past comments have the power of destroying any faith that the Muslims have in the party.

If the speech was any precedent of what is to come, then the BJP’s plan seems to have succeeded. However, only time will tell whether Adityanath will succumb to divisive forces or become the leader Uttar Pradesh so desperately craves.

Featured Image Source: Flickr