Raipur/Bhopal: Akram Ali is from Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh but he was in Sehore district of adjoining Madhya Pradesh on November 21. Ali, along with his fellow natives of Uttar Pradesh, drives around parts of Madhya Pradesh to sell the famous Sitapur dari (rug). On November 21, Ali had another plan. He would attend the public meeting of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath at Sehore and then go back to UP. “Wo hamare CM hain toh unka bhashan sunana hain, (I want to hear his speech since he is our CM" a beaming Ali says, adding that he is not a voter in MP but he is curious to see Yogi Adityanath.
For the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP), which is fighting a fierce battle with the Congress in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh where the polls are over, Yogi Adityanath carries more than the curiosity value. In these states, the saffron-clad Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister has been one of the star campaigners for the BJP for his obvious connection with firebrand Hindutva, relative novelty, and oratorial skills in Hindi.
“Well he is an asset for us in these Hindi speaking states, especially in those parts which border Uttar Pradesh. In fact, many candidates in these states and even in Telangana have preferred Yogi ji to even Modi ji because Hindutva matters more in their constituencies than development," a central BJP leader and member of the BJP’s campaign co-ordination committee told Mint in Madhya Pradesh requesting anonymity. This BJP leader said Yogi Adityanath’s value as a star campaigner with emphasis on Hindutva was first noticed in Karnataka polls in May this year. “Given the fact that Hindi is not a preferred language in the southern state, we were surprised by the volume of requests made by our candidates to deploy Yogi ji in Karnataka. Especially the Bajrang Dal (a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh affiliate) activists who were supporting the BJP in Karnataka were quite keen to have Yogi ji and we used him in select constituencies where the Hindu votes mattered," said the BJP leader.
The BJP units in these states as well as individual candidates have listed out Yogi Adityanath, among other BJP leaders, as one of the star campaigners in their submission to the Election Commission and district administration, the BJP leader added.
Also Read: How to make sense of the Mizoram matrix
In Chhattisgarh which went to polls in two phases on November 12 and 20, Madhya Pradesh which has election on November 28, and Rajasthan with elections scheduled on December 7, Yogi Adityanath has already addressed more than 10 public meetings, according to the BJP functionary. In Chhattisgarh alone, Yogi Adityanath addressed 6 rallies including two in the Maoist-infested Bastar region where he hit out at Congress for its “support" to Maoism and the Christian missionaries for “forced conversions". The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister’s emphasis on Hindutva themes has also been evident in Madhya Pradesh—a state where even the Congress has resorted to soft-Hindutva—where he campaigned from November 19 to 25 and addressed rallies in Central Madhya Pradesh Malwa region, and Gwalior-Chambal division which borders with Uttar Pradesh.
The BJP has deployed Yogi Adityanath in Rajasthan also which according to most opinion polls is a difficult battle for the BJP to win. On November 26 and 27 alone, the Uttar Pradesh chief minister addressed as many as 11 public meetings in Rajasthan including those constituencies where Muslims have a large presence. Yogi Adityanath’s Rajasthan outing will continue on November 29 and December 1, according to the BJP leader, and on December 2 he would spend a day campaigning in Telangana which goes to polls on December 7. “Together, he has devoted 12 to 14 days for campaigning in these states. He has enormous energy and his speeches with generous doses of Hindutva are a big hit," said the BJP functionary.
Also Read: Opinion | What is at stake in 2019 Lok Sabha elections