History has been made. Yogi Adityanath; the former Gorakhpur MP, has single-handedly done what political parties in decades haven't been able to. The Gorakhnath Math Head Priest rode the BJP chariot in UP on his own terms and took the party across the finishing line with a bang.
When Yogi Adityanath took over the reins of Uttar Pradesh in 2017, there was an unusual change in bureaucracy. In his early days, the long meetings of bureaucrats would continue till late in the night. Yogi Adityanath would say, "Ham yahan karya karne aaye hai, na ki aaram karne? (Are we here to work or to rest?)."
Celebratory images of BJP workers from Lucknow. Photo: India Today
But when the BJP government went to UP elections in 2022, the odds were stacked against it. There was a high anti-incumbency pressure, there was resentment of the farmers in Western UP, a growing discomfort from Yogi Adityanath's own MLAs, the defection of his 9 legislators to Samajwadi Party (SP) including three ministers, and a giant opponent in former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav.
Even the last few weeks had a different story to tell in UP. The large numbers at the rallies of Akhilesh Yadav narrated the rise of the SP supremo in Lucknow on March 10.
But the BJP prevailed above all.
The big question now is, how did the BJP manage to sweep Uttar Pradesh for a second term with this kind of a mandate?
Here are the answers:
THE MODI-YOGI DOUBLE ENGINE
Home Minister Amit Shah, UP CM Yogi Adityanath and PM Narendra Modi. Photo: and PM Narendra Modi. Photo: Getty Images
Yogi Adityanath and Narendra Modi both hail from different roots. While PM Modi has since the beginning has been associated with the RSS, Yogi was never attached to the RSS. He led his own group, Hindu Yuva Vahini in Gorakhpur, which ran parallel to the RSS and BJP.
But both Yogi and Modi have enjoyed a cult following in politics. Yogi is second to none when it comes to his charm on voters. In the past five years in UP, the Gorakhnath Math Head Priest has had a hold on the voters. He led the BJP from the front; a party which was on slippery ground in UP.
Narendra Modi on the other hand is the face of the BJP in the country. When the two walked hand in hand a few months ago, a big message was conveyed. Narendra Modi smartly put to rest all rumours of his rift with Yogi in UP, and campaigned extensively for the state elections. The result is that the BJP has scripted history in the political landscape of UP.
THE CASTE ARITHMETIC
Once again, the BJP not only kept the Brahmin and core BJP vote intact; but like 2017, pulled in the Yadav votes from the OBC, and the Jatavs and non-Jatav votes from BSP too. From the numbers which appear in UP, BSP is down to just 2 seats. BJP has snatched the Dalit vote completely from the BSP.
From Agra, for example, the BJP fielded former Uttarakhand mayor Baby Rani Maurya against the BSP. The plan worked and the BJP is leading on all the Agra seats.
A part of the Jat vote too went to the BJP.
DELIVERY: RASHAN, TOILET, WATER, HOMES
Photo: Getty Images
During the second wave of Covid-19, under the free ration distribution scheme, the UP government distributed free foodgrains to around 15 crore people in the state. The scheme was relaunched by Yogi Adityanath in December 2021, where people would receive 10 kgs of free foodgrains and oil under two separate schemes till Holi 2022. The scheme worked as a last-resort help to the deprived families who were recovering from the economic shock of Covid-19.
Plus, the Labharthi factor played a crucial part in BJP’s victory in UP in 2022. Labharthi is the section of people who got monetary benefits from the Central government schemes. In this, UP tops the country, where farmers, women, and people from marginalised sections of the society got assistance from the government.
For example, the Central government’s Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, gave monetary assistance to around 10 lakh people in UP. In rural pockets, Rs 1.2 lakh was given to people for construction of homes; while in urban pockets, Rs 2.5 lakh was given.
Also, under the Swachh Bharat Mission, money was transferred to the bank accounts of people to construct toilets. Further, under the Ayushman Bharat scheme, 1.3 crore people were insured for their medical needs.
All these schemes worked wonders for the BJP in UP elections 2022. Even a farmer who was frustrated with the stray cattle menace went in to vote for the BJP as he then had a roof over his head and a toilet in his house.
LAW AND ORDER
When Yogi Adityanath got to the helm of affairs in UP, he had the uphill task of dealing with the law and order of the state, which was always a subject of debate in Uttar Pradesh. The BJP government went behind the notorious elements in the state.
In 2022, UP was the second state in the country with highest number of encounters, with 117 in just the last five years. The figure was given by the Home Ministry to the Lok Sabha on February 8, 2022.
The government also led a crackdown on several gangster-turned-politicians like Mukhtar Ansari and Atiq Ahmed. Yogi Adityanath in his speeches had made it clear that the government would use an iron fist while dealing with criminals of the state.
HINDUTVA AND RAM MANDIR
BJP workers celebrating in Lucknow on BJP's second victory. Photo: India Today
The BJP, finally, never let Hindutva in UP take a back seat. Though Ram Mandir rarely emerged in the narrative of UP Elections 2022, it was a strong brownie point for the BJP. Even Yogi Adityanath in his rallies would take a dig at the opposition saying, ”Could the opposition have made the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya?”
The Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid was an issue on which BJP kickstarted its innings in UP back in 1991. The movement also gave birth to the Samajwadi Party (SP) in 1992.
The construction of Ram Mandir has already begun in Ayodhya. The temple is slated to be completed by 2023, ahead of the Lok Sabha Elections 2024, and seems to have played a part in the BJP making it to the throne of UP a second time.