Gujarat polls have brought out Bharatiya Janata Party’s internal hierarchy battle to the fore. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the undisputed numero uno in BJP, the campaigning for the Gujarat Assembly polls has established that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is on his way to securing the number two position in the party.
Sources stated that a clear hierarchy is emerging based on people’s backing and local party leaders' demands seeking the rallies and public programs of the two leaders. “While PM Modi is still the favourite for all BJP candidates for holding public programs in their constituencies, a definite second choice is Yogi Adityanath,” sources said.
UP Chief Minister is the second most sought-after leader for the Gujarat polls campaign. Sources stated that the Gujarat state unit has sought the time of Yogi for campaigning intensively in the two phases.
Interestingly, apart from the distinct chants of “Modi…..Modi” witnessed at events addressed by the Prime Minister, a similar hysteria is being witnessed at Yogi’s campaign events. Apart from the exception of PM Modi and now Yogi, no other central or state BJP leader has made this much connect with voters across various states, sources added.
And the demand for Yogi is coming despite an unease between BJP's central leadership and the saffron-robed CM of India’s biggest state. The rift between the leadership had come to the fore when the UP CM was excluded from the crucial parliamentary board of the party announced earlier this year. The parliamentary board of the BJP decides on the strategy and crucial issues faced by the saffron unit.
Considered a poster boy of Hindutva politics, Yogi has been known to take up an independent policy and stance over various issues. This has also brought him at loggerheads with the BJP’s central leadership over the past few years. The murmurs of things not being smooth between him and the central leadership keep surfacing every few months. However, Yogi is understood to have the strong backing of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, the ideological parent of the BJP.
Party sources stated that over the past few years, apart from PM Modi, UP CM Yogi has emerged as one of the most sought-after leaders by the party's state units.
The popularity of the UP Chief Minister was also evident in Himachal Pradesh legislative assembly polls. A similar demand is now emerging from Gujarat, which goes to polls in two phases on December 1 and 5.
Of the 182 assembly seats in Gujarat, 89 constituencies will vote in the first phase, and the rest 93 in the second phase. Votes will be counted on December 8 along with Himachal Pradesh.
The popularity of the Yogi model across states
Over the past few years, Yogi has emerged as one of the star campaigners for the saffron party, in high-stakes Assembly as well as Lok Sabha polls. Yogi’s tough stance on criminals and organized crime has been one of the most important selling points of the saffron model being implemented in UP, which has also received wide support from the people.
As a follow-up, Yogi’s model is also being implemented in several BJP-ruled states across the country. His popularity can be gauged from the fact that several BJP-ruled states implemented his various governance policies like using bulldozers against criminal elements, introducing anti-romeo squads and ordering surveys of madrasas. These tough policies are credited for the re-election of Yogi as UP Chief Minister in 2021.
These policies, first introduced by the Yogi-led UP government, have found a ready connection with the masses. This has in turn forced BJP leadership in several states, including Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Karnataka, to follow in his footsteps.
Apart from these policies, Yogi is also seen by common people as the guardian of the Ram Janmabhoomi Temple in Ayodhya, and he has affirmed his connection by visiting the Hindu religious site repeatedly.
With the popularity of Yogi continuing to grow across various states, the saffron robed CM is likely to remain one of the most sought-after leaders in BJP for campaigning in the 2024 Lok Sabha and future Assembly polls in the country.