It was certainly a brilliant move by the BJP. The new Chief Minister is a 5-term MP, a powerful orator with demonic energy, very young at around 45 years, a grassroots person who vibes with the electorate who is able to deliver votes, and, above all, represents the aspiration of the young UP electorate. In his area of influence around Goraknath, he has strong support across communities and has demonstrated his committed to the welfare of citizens. UP possibly has one of the youngest populations in India, largely rural, very under-governed and very diverse, representing the Indian heartland. A very poor region, it has consistently grown with 17%+ of India's population at growth rates less than the Indian average. For the last 10 years, it has seen a rule by caste-based groups with development and growth on the back-burner.
The new Chief Minister comes across as a person with very strong views, unafraid to speak his mind or court controversy, strongly "Hindu" in his approach, a celibate and monk too and the head of an old Math. He has reportedly spoken against a certain minority community in the past and has several criminal cases of rioting, intimidation and violation of the law against him, many foisted by a hostile government which was out to finish him. Many in the media are perplexed at his choice. But he has campaigned successfully and consolidated the Hindu vote in a caste driven-society with wide support cutting across caste, gender and region. A strong person who holds his own, he seems cast in the Modi Mould. For a largely lawless state, a strong Chief Minister focused on governance is essential. In his first press conference, he clearly stated he would rule with a strong hand, protecting all citizens, without discrimination and focused on development.
His choice shows a clear strategy by the BJP to prepare for the big election in 2019 in what is the most crucial state for seats in parliament. To win big in 2019, as in 2014 and 2017, a clear consolidation of the Hindu Vote cutting across caste is essential. All other parties have played the Muslim card combining with other caste groups to come to power. The BJP has succeeded in bypassing the Muslim vote through its successful strategy. There is a strong possibility of all other political parties joining together to prevent votes splitting in 2019, and a Hindu consolidation is certainly needed if the BJP has to win.
To win in 2019, the new government has to govern well till then, demonstrating economic growth, development and jobs. Rule of law, safety of life, liberty and property of all citizens specially women, the poor and vulnerable sections including Muslims, is essential. Roads, power, water for drinking and agriculture, other infrastructure, health and education, enforcement of the rule of law and dismantling of goonda raj, improving the quality of life, jobs and creating economic opportunities for all should be the target. As PM Modi did in Gujarat over the last 10 years before becoming the PM, there is no reason to suspect why the new Chief Minister will not do the same. Power brings great responsibility and for a Yogi, a patriot and ardent nationalist who loves his country, there can be no better opportunity to show his mettle as Chief Minister of UP. Certainly much hope and the future of Indian politics depends on the strong, broad shoulders of Yogi Adityanath.
(Mohandas Pai was the CFO and then the head of HR at Infosys. He is now Chairman, Aarin Capital Partners.)
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Disclosure: Mohandas Pai is an investor in NDTV Convergence's e-commerce venture, smartcooky.com