A Yogi in POL­I­TICS

A look at the Ut­tar Pradesh chief min­is­ter’s long spell in pol­i­tics, his hardline ap­proach, and how he has fared in his post so far

Governance Now - - YOGI ADITYANATH - Ishita Mishra

It’s a Satur­day morn­ing at the gorakhnath tem­ple, and there’s a hus­tle-bus­tle in the com­pound: the chief min­is­ter’s in ab­sen­tia dur­bar is on. call­ers phone in their com­plaints, and let­ters are is­sued that, hope­fully, will solve their prob­lems. In a sense, it’s an ex­ten­sion of what Yogi Adityanath used to con­duct as the ma­hant of the tem­ple and the lo­cal mp; now, it con­tin­ues with him as chief min­is­ter. There are func­tionar­ies who take down the com­plaints and for­ward them to the right places; the crowd is an in­di­ca­tion of how ef­fec­tive peo­ple think this fo­rum is. As a chief min­is­ter who re­cently com­pleted 100 days, Yogi Adityanath con­tin­ues to draw in­flu­ence and strength from the tem­ple, which has all along pro­pelled him ahead in pol­i­tics. A phone call dis­tracts ev­ery­one’s at­ten­tion. The caller shouts: “I’m call­ing from ghaziabad and have lost my bike to­day morn­ing. No one is fil­ing my FIR. I want to talk to the chief min­is­ter.” Vi­jen­dra Singh, a mid­dle-aged man with a crew cut who takes the call, sit­ting be­hind a wooden par­ti­tion in a large room, is also busy typ­ing with one hand. He takes on the caller: “What do you think? Does the chief min­is­ter have noth­ing else to do but go and find your bike? go, speak to the in­spec­tor in the area. If he’s not avail­able, speak to the SSP, the DIG, the Ig and then the DGP! If no one lis­tens to you, come to the chief min­is­ter.” He puts down the phone. “Saala sabko num­ber mil jata hai or laga dete hain phone mukhya­mantri ko! (Damn, ev­ery­one gets this num­ber and de­cides to call up the chief min­is­ter)!”

on the other side of the fence from Vi­jen­dra Singh sit the pe­ti­tion­ers. There’s a table and a chair that Yogi Adityanath would use when he used to be based at the tem­ple. In his ab­sence, a saf­fron towel has been draped on the chair; a pile of books and pa­pers is on the table, among them a copy of the Ra­mayana. Be­hind the chair, there are pho­to­graphs of Yogi Adityanath and other ma­hants. The sym­bol­ism is com­plete.

There are five oth­ers with Vi­jen­dra Singh, han­dling the two land­line phones that ring in­ces­santly. They also go to work on the two type­writ­ers in the en­clo­sure, clack­ing out let­ters of rec­om­men­da­tions and in­struc­tions or ap­peals to a range of of­fices and in­sti­tu­tions at the po­lit­i­cal and bu­reau­cratic lev­els of gov­ern­ment. The pe­ti­tion­ers, hav­ing passed through se­cu­rity

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