Yogi Adityanath as UP chief minister
Long back before UP elections I have read some FB page which was titled as 'Yogi Adityanath as UP CM'. I guess he was no doubt a strong contender for the post, given his organizing skills. We cannot judge organizing skills when situation was tailor-made for BJP. Adityanath has been winning in his constituency from 1998, that too a Loksabha constituency, and it includes a patch of years when things were not so easy for BJP in UP. So clearly he has better leadership skills than other BJP leaders which are basically boats that have risen on strong tide. So seen from the criteria of choosing a leader with proven leadership mantle, he is a good choice. The discomfort one feels for this choice is when one considers what will be the priorities of him, seen in the light of intentions that his past reveals. Please note that I am not saying 'spiritual personality shouldn't be politically active', what I am saying is when CM of any state seems to have some disputable (not corrupt, but something on which there is no wider agreement) agenda because of his past actions and thoughts, then it is a cause of concern.
It is quite likely that I am reading things wrongly. Hindu vote consolidation might have occurred for the same agenda which Adityanath represents and if such is the case, then he is truly a representative choice. But we must say that he becomes right choice in this case by 'majoritarian' argument, and there is still scope to differ.
This is not first time BJP has appointed a supposedly spiritual personality as CM. Uma Bharati was one such prior experiment and one can say that it failed.
There is some confusion in the mind of person observing distantly what happened in UP. The confusion can be stated as follows: Did BJP win because it was able to convince voters with development agenda ot did it win by consolidating Hindu votes, by erasing caste lines and firmly drawing lines of religions. I think Adityanath's appointment reveals that invoking voters on the basis of religious identities (subtly or symbolically in public, and blatantly in informal social media channels) played a great role in BJP success.
As Ashutosh Varshney pointed out in his recent Indian Express column, BJP will have (either by compulsion or by choice) a two pronged path: a Hindu identity laden one and a development rhetoric one. It will be interesting to see how new UP CM trades. I expect that symbolic changes aiming at identity consolidation will have major role and it is quite likely that they will over-shadow development agenda. One can go further and say that BJP will try to develop further on long-standing issue of Ram Mandir, which was never explicitly recognised and was never explicitly withdrawn. It seems eerily similar to transition from Mulayam to Kalyansingh before 1992, though I still believe that probability that such course of action will repeat itself is much less likely.
I personally think that one cannot be a spiritual personality when one dabbles in social action. There is no precedence for such actions anywhere in Hindu philosophy. The role of sages was contemplation and production of 'knowledge' and may be 'nudging' the political leadership, but never of to be a leader. This is very similar to Plato's conception of 'Philosopher King', though it is debatable how close Adityanath or Uma Bharati were to be called a philosopher. Plainly put, political leadership requires some opportune selfish behaviour which is diagonally opposite to a spiritual mindset. Spiritual person can be interested in social happenings, but cannot be interested in becoming an active agent of change. That's why I am uneasy with having so called spiritual personalities becoming socially active personalities. I think it shows some fundamental contradiction, nonetheless they become politically effective agents of change.
I think BJP is the best political alternative in India right now, but I can never conform to religious identity based, pride driven discourse which they cunningly use (that's another point of contention, that they never embrace it and never give it up!). Adityanath as UP CM is something I would never support, though I wish him good luck and I wish rapid development phase for UP, for which they have been waiting for so long.
I think Adityanath becoming CM will have impact on Ram Mandir issue, it will be a big surprise if it won't. So some points on Ram Mandir issue are in order: I never believed that Babur never destroyed the temple. I think Muslim invasion had motives of wealth and power accumulation within broader religious thrust. But I do not see any merit in movement for temple. The temple can be constructed by acceptable mode of persuasion where owners/current claimants of such land sells/transfers the plot to highest bidder in mutual agreement and that buyer/new controller decides to have a temple there. Agreeing to what was the history is different thing than zeal to undo some historical action now, especially when it lacks wider materialistic benefits. It is an emotional issue without any concurrent society level material benefits and it is best for the nation if resources of social leaders are not wasted on such issue.
Hopefully a rational discourse will prevail over the emotional one!