Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was seen as headed for a major victory despite mismanagement of the second wave of the pandemic, which included international coverage of bodies floating in the Ganges. Despite this, and some resentment over what he thought of changing his cabinet ahead of the election, things got back on track with Adityanath taking some instructions from the Sangh and Modi. The 49-year-old monk got his winner’s swagger back.
But now, all bets are off in UP, a car owned by Ajay Mishra ‘Theni’, the junior home minister of the country, ran over farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri on Sunday. Four farmers were killed and four others were killed in the violence that broke out. Mishra denies that his son Ashish, who was named in a murder charge in the police case, was driving the car. He has also refused to step down as a Union minister in a meeting with his boss Amit Shah on Wednesday. Tenney has told several media outlets that he will not leave. Perhaps that’s why the media was sidelined from an official home ministry event in Delhi where Teni spoke yesterday – a pre-emptive strike reportedly ordered by Shah.
The Supreme Court today hit out at the Yogi government, saying the treatment of those accused – who have a minister’s son at the center – is unique. Mishra Jr ignored summons for questioning today. Incredibly, it took five days for the summons to be issued to join the investigation.
Yogi Adityanath, who has to secure his second term, is now at loggerheads with the central government. Sources have confirmed to me that Yogi wanted Mishra to be arrested on Sunday itself. Yogi has developed his image as an intense law and order person with great effort. Yogi wanted to stop political leaders including Akhilesh Yadav and Gandhi family from going to Lakhimpur Kheri. It was reportedly after the intervention of a call from Amit Shah that Priyanka Gandhi was released from “illegal custody”.
The lack of trust between the Modi government and Yogi is so great that Yogi asks two of his trusted Gorakhnath Math temple colleagues to contact Rakesh Tikait, who is leading the farmers’ movement to help them reach Lakhimpur Kheri from Haryana. are. Sources confirm that Yogi spoke to Tikait, who has previously worked with the BJP. Tikaat has a dodgy track.
All this in the background is the only issue that often matters in UP – caste. Teni is a Brahmin who was recently made a minister in the cabinet reshuffle ahead of the UP elections. Brahmins constitute 20 per cent of UP’s population, but punch far above their weight in setting the agenda and all-important “Palace” (Climate). They have voted strongly for Modi (who is the MP from Varanasi), but now they dislike Yogi, because the underground buzz is that Yogi is in favor of his own caste, the Thakurs.
The fact is that Teni has a criminal background and is a local powerhouse who had violently threatened the agitating farmers a week before the incident. With the elections approaching, whatever step is taken, it justifies how the Brahmin vote will be affected for the BJP.
To send out a similar election message, Maneka Gandhi and her son Varun Gandhi, both MPs from UP, were dropped from the BJP’s national executive, announced yesterday. This happened when Gandhi attacked the public handling of the Lakhimpur Kheri incident. Birender Singh, who is now in the BJP, was also sacked for his outspoken support to the farmers.
Yogi meanwhile is planning a series of events with his budding Brahmin minister Jitin Prasada as salve. Yogi has limited patience with central intervention in his field and is now all set to campaign in his own way. “King” Now in the building.
(Swati Chaturvedi is a writer and journalist who has worked with The Indian Express, The Statesman and The Hindustan Times.)
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal views of the author. The facts and opinions expressed in the article do not reflect the views of NB and NB assumes no responsibility or liability for the same.