Uttar Pradesh, one of the most populous states in the country, offered one surprise after the other - the biggest one being the elevation of a hardliner within the BJP, Yogi Adityanath, to the CM's chair.
The moment the announcement was made, Yogi Adityanath took a sharp turn from his stand and stated that "sabka saath, sabka vikas" would be the guiding principle for governance. Many may take that with a pinch of salt. Especially in the light of the fact that while campaigning for the UP Assembly election, he minced no words in projecting the hardliner within him.
In fact, BJP candidates vied with one another in seeking Yogi's presence in their respective areas for campaigning. He raised the communal card to feverish pitch and despite a scathing attack from the opposition, kept harping on the Hindutva agenda.
Possibly, the BJP had sniffed an opportunity in him and wanted to utilise his potential to polarise votes to the hilt and as such he was put to use in a big way in areas with a clear divide between the majority and minority communities.
Shamshaan-kabristaan, triple talaq, Ram Mandir, "Hindu exodus" and the issue of slaughterhouses were all raked up by the Yogi with the sole intent of vote polarisation.
The formula worked wonders for the BJP, for which winning UP was very important as stakes were high for both Amit Shah and PM Narendra Modi himself.
Possibly, the central leadership of the BJP knows well that the hardliner approach which worked wonders for the party in UP will also work wonders in 2019 and that is the reason why Adityanath has been entrusted the responsibility of managing UP.
The top leadership of the BJP had been making tall claims during the poll campaign, including loan wavers to farmers, closure of slaughterhouses, electricity to all villages, establishment of rule of law, repayment to sugarcane farmers, besides a host of other issues such as rebuilding the Ram Mandir.
Not that these are undeliverable. Yogi will have to first reign in the bureaucracy that has acquired deftness in swerving allegiance. With the bureaucracy in control, he will have to ensure governance that transcends castes and communities and the toughest challenge would be to control the unruly mafia which has over the period earned the dubious distinction of managing proximity to any government that comes to rule the state. Effective governance would necessitate breaking the vicious cycle of the mafia, politician and bureaucracy nexus.
More so, Yogi can't now afford to drive away from the Hindutva agenda altogether because the mass appeal and support he managed to generate had Hindutva as its main plank.
The 2014 results were emboldening for the BJP and created aspirations for 2019 and Yogi would be just the right person to set the stage for the party. Governance in UP will have connotations and impact far and wide and will to a great extent decide the future of the party.
The future is bound to have Hindutva as the overriding principle. The BJP after having garnered unexpected gains through reverse polarisation now can't afford a U-turn and by putting Adityanath at the forefront, it is trying to send aloud the message that it will stick to the agenda of Hindutva.
Yogi will have to play a crucial role in setting the stage for 2019 and the entire party would be banking heavily on him.