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Yogi Adityanath’s leadership under question as BJP continues to be crushed in crucial by elections

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has been controversy’s favourite politician ever since he took over the state’s command. Apart from facing constant bickering for his allegiance to the pro-Hindutva agenda and open saffron embrace, Adityanath has faced very often flak for poor state administration amid a deteriorating law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh.

File image of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath. Reuters

Yogi who had been projected as the face of BJP’s communal outreach in the northern belt was later deputed campaigning work for Assembly elections in Tripura, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Karnataka and most recently in the Palghar bypoll. So even as the Opposition continues to label him as an ‘RSS pracharak’ and target him for ‘bhagwa rajeneeti’, he continues to be BJP’s go-to-man for pre-poll strategies. And all this while he grapples to keep things together in his state in the midst of frequent natural calamities like dust storms and mishaps such as the Kushinagar school bus accident.

Thus it is no surprise that Adityanath, time and again, has put the blame of rising communal tension in the state on the ‘divisive politics’ of opposition parties. But consecutive losses in by elections have pushed the BJP government to a corner with rising resentment against Yogi’s style of governance and doubts on his waning popularity.

Soon after BJP lost the Kairana and Noorpur by elections on Thursday, BJP MLA Shyam Prakash took to Facebook to criticise the Yogi government. In a rather amusing poem posted on his account, Prakash has not only accused the BJP of “corruption” but has also called-out the Yogi-led govt for winning the election in the name of Modi and later derailing from their agenda of people’s welfare.

However, for the majority, he still remains a party favourite. According to a report in The Hindu, BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said, “The Uttar Pradesh chief minister is a popular figure among the north Indian residents in the city. His campaigns in the urban areas will surely help us.”

But this is not the first time, Adityanath has received brickbats for mismanagement in his state. He earlier faced heat, when Narendra Modi himself reprimanded him over “simmering revolt of Dalit MPs, loss in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur by-elections and general lacklustre performance of the state government” in April this year. In a separate meeting then, party chief Amit Shah also rapped on his knuckles.

In September 2017 too, Modi and Shah took Yogi to task after women students protesting against sexual violence on the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) campus were baton-charged by the police.

It doesn’t help then that Yogi, according to at least two public accounts, has been accused of violently turning away people from his ‘Janta Darbar’. In fact, two BJP MPs in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi had accused Yogi of “scolding” them and “asking to get out”.

As Ashok K Singh writes for the DailyO, “Yogi lacks the manner in which Modi can transcend ideological rigidity to carry the people along. As the mahant of Gorakhnath temple, Yogi has not learnt the art of political persuasion. His ability to make outreach to the people who feel alienated from his administration is severely limited”. He even went on to label him as “an albatross around Modi’s neck”.

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