Hindutva, mafia crackdown: What makes Yogi Adityanath BJP’s most sought-after campaigner in Karnataka?

Yogi Adityanath sticks to an aggressive Hindutva agenda as he enters the campaign blitzkrieg in Karnataka.

Hindutva, mafia crackdown: What makes Yogi Adityanath BJP's most sought-after camapigner in Karnataka?
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, whose now famous ‘Mafiyao ko mitti mein mila denge’ vow in the state Assembly, followed by the police encounter of gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed’ son Asad Ahmed, is in high demand as a star campaigner in poll bound Karnataka.

After the end of a gruesome story of crime in UP with the murder of Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf Ahmed, who were shot dead by three men in Prayagraj on April 15, the saffron-robed ascetic is among the most sought after BJP leaders from outside of Karnataka after Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The incumbent Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP government and the state party unit have been demanding Yogi Adityanath to campaign extensively in Karnataka.

In the coming week, Yogi Adityanath is likely to address more than a dozen election rallies and also hold roadshows in Karnataka. He addressed his first rally in Mandya on Wednesday and slammed the Congress of providing political patronage to Popular Front of India (PFI) and accused it of Muslim appeasement.

Multiple party nominees in Karnataka want Yogi Adityanath’s rallies and roadshows in their constituencies, especially coastal Karnataka, where Hindutva is a major force.

This Thakur by birth and a five-time MP from Gorakhpur is the mahant or head priest of the influential Gorakhnath Mutt, and the mutt has followers in the southern state as well. In fact, several mutts and religious organisations are directly or indirectly connected with the Nath Sect of which the Gorakhnath Mutt is the biggest and most important centre in the country.

While some political observers say that it is indicative of the BJP’s changing political strategy for the elections as well as a marked departure from the platform of ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas” (development for all) pedestal on which PM Modi rose to national power in 2014, others are of the opinion that in the high-stakes Karnataka Assembly election where the party faces a tough political challenge from the Congress, focusing on aggressive Hindutva is a necessity for the saffron party. And Yogi Adityanath fits the best in that narrative.

With the BJP failing to create jobs, revive the economy, double farmers’ incomes or bring in investments, they are going to fall back more on the Hindutva agenda, they add.

Also, earlier this month, several BJP leaders, including senior BJP leader and former Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, joined the grand old party, ahead of the polls.

A firebrand leader with a history of agitation against minority Muslims, Yogi Adityanath is known to reinforce his Hindutva credentials and repeatedly invoke Lord Ram’s name in most of his public addresses.

Yogi Adityanath has in the past accused Muslim men of waging “love jihad” to lure Hindu women to Islam with promises of marriage and for exhorting Hindu men to convert 100 Muslim girls to Hinduism for every Hindu that adopted Islam. Gau raksha is another cause close to his heart.

Political observers feel that Adityanath will undoubtedly stick to an aggressive Hindutva agenda in his latest campaign blitzkrieg in Karnataka.

But only May 13 will tell us whether Yogi Adityanath’s efforts have borne fruit and the strategy paid off.

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First published on: 26-04-2023 at 14:41 IST