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March 2017
« Feb    
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 4:50 am
2172 Tue 21 Mar 2017 LESSON


[While all the rosy claims in favour of the EVMs, in the article at

sl. no. I below, may just not hold, I, for one, do consider that under

Indian circumstances the EVMs are decidedly a significant improvement

over the earlier ballot boxes.

But then, having already given an undertaking before the Supreme

Court, given the misgivings and apprehensions as regards the EVMs, the

EC must ensure that the VVPAT system is fully implemented at least by

the next general election in 2019.

Intriguingly enough, the Union Government is apparently holding back

the required funds to sabotage the process, as the report at sl. II

below makes out.]


Without EVMs, Maya may have got fewer votes

March 19, 2017, 2:24 AM IST SA Aiyar in Swaminomics | India | TOI

Mayawati says rigged electronic voting machines (EVMs) caused her

massive defeat in the UP election. The Election Commission says EVMs

are tamper-proof. A new Brookings research study by Shamika Ravi,

Sisir Debnath and Mudit Kapoor goes much further. It shows that EVMs

have hugely reduced rigging and crime rates, while improving the

participation of vulnerable groups.

In the late 1980s, booth-capturing was common, especially in north

India. Armed gangs seized booths and stuffed ballot boxes. Presiding

officers were so intimidated by gangs that they feared even reporting

a capture. The ruling party manipulated the polling process and police

deployment to aid its own gangs. This threatened the very fundamentals

of democracy.

In 1991, T N Seshan became Election Commissioner. He declared he would

henceforth control police deployment and the phasing of polls. He

brought in para-military forces and officials from outside states to

ensure fair polling.

These steps towards clean elections were followed by the introduction

of EVMs in 1998 in 16 constituencies as an experiment. EVM use was

gradually extended to more and more states, and finally became the

national norm after 2002.

EVMs run on alkaline batteries and so are not vulnerable to power

cuts. They are designed to register a maximum of five votes per

minute. This means it will take far longer for booth capturers to

stuff EVMs than traditional ballot boxes, increasing the time for an

alarm to be sounded. EVMs also have a button which, when pressed,

stops all electronic voting. If a booth capture is attempted, the

presiding officer can press this button and make electronic stuffing


FAIR OR FOUL? Studies show that EVMs have helped cleanse politics, cut

crime, and embolden vulnerable groups to vote.

These features, along with the spread of CCTV cameras and cellphones,

made successful booth capture almost impossible. The need for

repolling in violence-affected booths has fallen dramatically.

EVMs were first introduced only in some constituencies while others

had paper ballots, so the researchers could compare outcomes in the

two sorts of voting. The most striking outcome was a fall of 3.5% in

recorded voter turnout in EVM constituencies compared with

conventional ones, evidence of reduced stuffing. The fall was sharpest

in the most gang-ridden, misgoverned states of north India.

A welcome though unexpected outcome was a sharp fall in the overall

crime rate, especially of murder and rape, after EVMs were introduced.

The effect was greatest in the gang-ridden states. Earlier, all

parties needed gangs to do their dirty work, and the protection they

extended to such gangs naturally led to more crime. But EVMs reduced

the political need for, and hence protection given to, such gangs. So,

the impact of EVMs went far beyond elections to public safety and

reduced criminality, a huge bonus.

The researchers also analysed post-poll surveys done before counting

began, to capture voter views on security in voting. In one CSDS

survey, more than 96% of people said the new system was better.

Vulnerable groups — Dalits, tribals and women — said they felt much

safer and more emboldened to come out and vote after the introduction

of EVMs. The power of gangs and dominant castes to intimidate such

groups had fallen, a welcome blow for greater, fairer participation.

When paper ballots were used, some were rejected for faulty filling or

incompleteness. This hurt poor illiterates, who were most likely to

bungle their ballots. EVMs have ended the problem of rejected and

faulty ballots.

Some other claims made by the researchers sound a bit of a stretch,

and may require further research for confirmation. For instance, they

find that the likelihood of an incumbent being re-elected fell after

EVMs were introduced. Does this really prove that, before EVMs, chief

ministers were better able to control booth capturing and improve

their chances of re-election? More rigorous research is required to

establish this.

The researchers also find a correlation between the use of EVMs and

increased electricity supply in subsequent years. This too may require

further confirmatory research.

***There remain legitimate fears that hackers can get into voting

systems and manipulate them. No evidence of such manipulation has come

to light, in India or any other countries using electronic voting. But

eternal vigilance is needed on this front. The Election Commission of

India has promised to introduce a paper trail for EVMs by 2019,

enabling it to check whether any electronic manipulation has


In sum, EVMs deserve three cheers for reducing ballot stuffing and

crime rates, and improving minority participation in voting. Without

EVMs, Mayawati may have got fewer votes, not more.

(The writer’s new book ‘From Narasimha Rao to Narendra Modi’ is being

published by Times Books)


Letters for 2 years, SOS to PM, Election Commission still awaits EVM

papertrail funds

VVPAT machines produce a printout of the vote cast using an EVM, which

can be shown to the voter to dispel any doubts.

Written by Ritika Chopra | New Delhi | Published:March 19, 2017 5:41 am

***IN A letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi four months ago, the

Election Commission sought urgent release of funds to procure enough

Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines to cover all polling

stations ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections in 2019. The EC has

sent over 10 reminders to the government on the matter, since June

2014, and the letter to Modi by Chief Election Commissioner Nasim

Zaidi, on October 25, 2016, was an SOS of sorts. The CEC very rarely

writes directly to the PM, with its communication to the government on

electoral matters normally limited to Law and Home ministries.***

[Video: EVM Issue: Machines Can’t Be Tampered With, Says Former

Advisor To Election Commission]

Several parties, including the BSP, Samajwadi Party and Aam Aadmi

Party, have raised doubts about tampering of EVMs following the Uttar

Pradesh and Uttarakhand results. Before the 2014 general elections,

the BJP had talked of EVM tampering on many occasions.

VVPAT machines produce a printout of the vote cast using an EVM, which

can be shown to the voter to dispel any doubts. This printout is then

deposited in a box and can be used to resolve any dispute regarding

the election. In 2013, the Supreme Court had ordered the EC to

implement the VVPAT system in a phased manner, and the commission had

committed to have it in place by the time of the 2019 general


The EC has been writing to the Law Ministry (its parent ministry) for

funds to purchase approximately 16 lakh VVPATs, for which it needs Rs

3,100 crore.

In his letter to Modi, Zaidi wrote, “I’m writing to draw your kind

attention to the crisis that may occur during the next General

Election to Lok Sabha in 2019, if required numbers of replacement

Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and new Voter Verified Paper Audit

Trail (VVPAT) are not produced in time by Bharat Electronics Limited

(BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), the two

defence PSUs.”

He further wrote, “I would like to bring to your notice that

Commission submitted its first proposal to the government of India in

Ministry of Law & Justice on 16th June, 2014 for the required budget

and sanction for EVMs and VVPATs and has pursued the matter

continuously since then.

“There are already two contempt petitions against me and the

Commission being heard by Hon’ble Supreme Court for not deploying

VVPATs in adequate number. The production of VVPAT is held up for want

of sanction of funds. Hence I would request your good self to kindly

look into the matter and advise concerned ministries for release of

necessary funds & sanctions for VVPAT most urgently.”

The Sunday Express has learnt that on July 20, 2016, the Union Cabinet

had at a meeting considered the procurement of VVPATs, but it was

decided that the EC should be asked to explore the feasibility of

roping in private manufacturers as BEL and ECIL have limited capacity.

The EC later turned down the suggestion citing “sensitivity of the

job”. In December 2016, the poll panel recommended two other PSUs,

namely Indian Telecom Industry in Bangalore and Central Electronics

limited in Ghaziabad, to enhance production capacity.

On January 10, 2017, Zaidi wrote to Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad,

warning that if orders for VVPATs were not placed by February,

manufacturers would not be able to supply the machines by September


During a recent hearing on the contempt petition against the CEC on

the matter, the EC told the Supreme Court that it needed 30 months to

procure close to 16 lakh paper trail machines. This means that unless

it ropes in more manufacturers, the poll panel would miss the 2019

deadline to equip all polling stations with VVPATs.

Following the results in Uttar Pradesh, BSP chief Mayawati, who was

decimated in the elections, sought a repoll with paper ballots. AAP

leader Arvind Kejriwal later blamed his party’s loss in Punjab on EVM

tampering and asked the EC to tally his party’s EVM votes with the

VVPATs installed across 30 seats. The Congress’s losing Uttarakhand

CM, Harish Rawat, too has attributed the BJP’s victory to “EVM

chamatkar (EVM magic)”.

While the EC has rejected all such allegations and reaffirmed its

faith in EVMs, in an interview to NDTV news channel on Friday, Zaidi

acknowledged that VVPATs would be a “game changer”, which would

“double and treble the voter’s confidence in EVMs”.

The poll panel needs 16,15,066 VVPATs by 2019, when the Lok Sabha

elections would be held simultaneously with state elections in Andhra

Pradesh, Telangana, Sikkim, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh, Maharashtra and

Haryana. One machine costs Rs 19,650. The poll panel already has about

20,000 units and has placed order for another 67,000 VVPATs, of which

half have been delivered.

Peace Is Doable

[Maurya, a former VHP man, has 11 criminal cases against him,

including those of murder, rioting and arson.]

UP BJP chief under fire for ‘criminal record’

Uday Rana | TNN | Apr 9, 2016, 09.17 PM IST

MEERUT: The appointment of Phulpur MP Keshav Prasad Maurya as the

president of Uttar Pradesh unit of the BJP has ruffled many feathers

in the state politics. Both insiders and outsiders have raised

questions about his chequered past - ***Maurya, a former VHP man, has

11 criminal cases against him, including those of murder, rioting and

arson*** [emphasis added].

Party insiders feel his appointment may send a wrong message among

workers who have been asked to spread awareness among people about the

party’s fight against corruption. Maurya had himself declared the

criminal cases against him in his affidavit to the election commission

during the Lok Sabha polls in 2014, which he won from Phulpur.

Defending his position, Maurya told TOI, “Most of the cases against me

are related to protest movements that I led. Everything I did was for

the people. The cases against me are politically motivated. It doesn’t

matter what sections I was booked under. Besides, a lot of water has

flown in the Ganga since many of these cases were imposed against me.

In many cases, I have even received a clean chit.”

He added, “The reason I was booked under such harsh sections was

because the government of the day has always been our political

opponent. Some cases were filed against me when the SP was in power

and others when BSP was in power. We are more committed than ever to

end Gundaraj in UP. We will convert Uttar Pradesh into Uttam Pradesh.

We will do this by coming to power in 2017.”

The Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Saturday asked the BJP

how they plan to end the Samawadi Party’s ‘Gundaraj’ in UP when their

own state president is accused of murder.

All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary and west UP in-charge

Naseeb Singh lashed out at the BJP’s choice, saying, “The PM had said

that he would remove all people with a criminal history but his

right-hand man and party president Amit Shah still has several serious

cases against him. It is no wonder that Shah chose a man with a

tainted record to lead the party in Uttar Pradesh. We can’t expect

good politics from such people.

It seems that in BJP, a bigger case against someone means that there

is a bigger chance of them succeeding. The fact that Keshav Prasad

Maurya also has the image of being a Hindutva hardliner proves that

BJP has no real issues to fight. They only want to polarize society in

their bid to grab power.”

The AAP also stepped up its attack on Maurya with party leader Ashish

Khetan tweeting, “New UP BJP chief has only 10 crime cases. Just one

murder. Rest are of conspiracy & riot. Venkaiah was right. Modi is

God’s gift to India.” Sudhir Bhardwaj, AAP state secretary, said,

“Before becoming PM, Narendra Modi talked of a crime-free India. They

say they want to end the SP’s Gundaraj in UP. However, now the BJP has

appointed a man accused of murder as their party chief in the state.”

Latest Comment

Criminal record is like degree certificate in BJP’s political university !


Former party leader Prashant Bhushan also tweeted saying, “A Chaiwala

with 10 Criminal cases & serially corrupt CM/godfather of Reddy Bros

for UP & Karnataka chosen to head BJP!”

For many within the BJP, however, Maurya’s image of a Hindutva

firebrand works well for the party. “He is a street-fighter. He will

consolidate the Hindu vote for us. The problem with Laxmikant Bajpai,

his predecessor, was that he only gave statements from afar and never

came to the ground. For people in western UP, where communal clashes

are an everyday experience, a leader who is willing to take to the

streets will be a welcome change. He is the right choice for the

party,” said a source in the BJP.

Peace Is Doable


[Adityanath’s template of communalism is Gujarat. Cries of “UP will

also become Gujarat” are common at his rallies.]


Watch: UP CM Adityanath used communal poison to build his politics and

this documentary shows how

Adityanath has used a virulent brand of Hindutva to build his career.

Yesterday · 10:25 pm.

Scroll Staff

[Video: Not working]

After the Bharatiya Janata Party’s sweeping win in the Uttar Pradesh

Assembly elections, it has at last announced its chief minister: Yogi

Adityanath. Head of the Gorakhnath temple in Gorakhpur, Adityanath is

a Far Right leader known for building his politics on religious


How did Adityanath rise to become the chief minister of India’s most

populous state? This 2011 documentary by Rajiv Yadav, Shahanawaz Alam

and Lakshman Prashad explains Adityanath’s rise from a priest to one

of India’s most powerful politicians.

The film opens with a chilling threat. “If a single Hindu is killed,

we will not go to the authorities, but instead murder 10 people [in

return],” declaims Adityanath fiercely to a large crowd. “We will not

let any tazia processesions take palce inside Gorakhpur city. And

along with these tazias, we will also celebrate our Holi.”

Clearly, Adityanath is unconcerned with even sugar coating his

bigotry. His organisation the Hindu Yuva Vahini is driven by the same

ideology. At a Hindu Yuva Vahini meeting, speaking from the same stage

as Adityanath, a speaker digs even deeper into the violent pysche of

Hindutva: “At present what we need is to dig out the corpses of their

[Muslim] mothers and sisters and rape them.”

The Gujarat model

***Adityanath’s template of communalism is Gujarat. Cries of “UP will

also become Gujarat” are common at his rallies.*** [Emphasis added.]

Adityanath wants Muslims to bow to the Hindu majority. “If any

organisation refuses to chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ or sing Vande

Mataram, like we smashed the Babri Masjid, we will smash it,” the

documentary shows Adityanath saying. A popular chant for BJP workers

in the area: “If you want to live in this area, you’ll have to take

the name of Yogi.”

The documentary points out that the Hindu Yuva Vahini was one of the

accused in the Mau communal riots of 2005. Adityanath was arrested for

causing communal violence – an act which led to more violence, with

his supports setting fire to a train.

His politics means he has changed the history of Gorakhpur to erase

all Muslim influences. Areas such as “Urdu Bazar” have been renamed to

“Hindi Bazar”, “Alinagar” to “Aryanagar” and “Miyan Bazar” to “Maya


Hindutvaising lower castes

The documentary points out that while he has used his position as the

head priest of the Gorakhnath temple, his ideology goes against the

historical message of its founder. The temple was founded as a

reaction to Brahmanism and once was a multi-faith institution which

included both lower caste Hindus and Muslims.

In 1952, the head priest of the temple, Digvijay fought elections on a

Hindu Mahasabha ticket, effectively ending Muslim participation at the

temple. The institution’s lower caste character in turn was used to

introduce Dalits to Hindutva.

In effect, the Gorakhnath temple, by marrying lower caste mobilisation

and Hindutva provided a template for the massive BJP win in the 2017

Assembly election.

Peace Is Doable


[While Modi is rather well known for systematically sidelining people

who’re capable of taking their own stands, “good” or “evil”,

Adityanath very well belongs to that category.

That makes the “choice” all the more scary.

If Modi has opted to take such a high “risk”, even without any

apparent hint of compulsion, the “gain” that he’s driving at must be

that stunning big.]


A leaf from the illustrious life of the CM designate of Uttar Pradesh


Account of a ten year old story : Helps you understand the CM designate of UP

What happened in the eastern Uttar Pradesh town was not a conflict but

violence unleashed by MP Yogi Adityanath and his henchmen

If one tries to understand the developments in Gorakhpur and its

neighbouring areas of eastern Uttar Pradesh (Poorvanchal) from January

26 to 31, 2007 through the eyes of the print and electronic media, one

moves further away from the truth. It is a sordid story of a highly

communalised media conjuring up a riot, collaborating with BJP MP Yogi

Adityanath, a Bal Thackeray clone and heir to the Gorakhnath Peeth

operating from the Gorakhnath temple. Adityanath is a BJP MP for

‘technical’ reasons and cares a damn for the niceties of party

discipline because he knows that the party cannot dissociate itself

from him. Though he mocked the party by holding a Vishwa Hindu Maha

Sammelan at the same time as the BJP’s National Council meet in

Lucknow, the party did not mind. It had earlier swallowed the defeat

of its candidate in the Assembly election by Adityanath’s candidate.

One should know that he is a Thakur; and a Thakur heads the BJP now .

The Thakur spread across party lines ensures that Adityanath is

allowed to have his own way in his fiefdom, i.e. Poorvanchal. He makes

it a point to give calls for a Gorakhpur bandh whenever the chief

minister visits the town.

Poorvanchal mein rahan hai to Yogi-Yogi kahan hoga (You have to chant

Yogi’s name if you want to live in Poorvanchal) is a slogan

popularised by his gang. But how true is the claim of his hold on

Gorakhpur, leave alone Poorvanchal? He has lost all local elections

held recently in and around Gorakhpur, and could only manage to lure

the relatively respected Samajwadi Party (SP) member and mayoral

candidate Anju Chaudhary to his side.

Apparently, Chaudhary fell a victim to the myth spun around him during

the last 15 years. Adityanath has been called the Yuvak Hindu Samrat,

Narendra Modi of Poorvanchal, the premier of the Hindu Rashtra of

Poorvanchal. He has used the wealth of the Gorakhnath Temple to

sustain his army of lumpen youth. Adityanath has followed the rss

methodology in creating organisations with different names that he

calls cultural bodies. Among these are Hindu Yuva Vahini, Sri Ram

Shakti Prakoshtha, Gorakhnath Purvanchal Vikas Manch, Hindu Mahasabha

and Vishwa Hindu Mahasangh. Adityanath himself is the main functionary

of these unregistered outfits. He also controls much of the

functioning of the Bajrang Dal and the Hindu Jagran Manch. He holds

his durbar in his temple that is attended by local police and


Adityanath has perfected his technique of manufacturing riots. An

insignificant incident like a Hindu’s clothes getting stained

accidentally by the paan spat by a Muslim is turned into an act of

humiliation of Hindus. A rape in which the victim is dalit and the

perpetrator Muslim is used to substantiate the allegation that

“Muslims rape our women” and all hell is let loose on the Muslims. The

last 11 years are witness to several such acts. No criminal case has

been registered against him except once in 1999 when a case was

registered against him in Maharajganj after the killing of the

official gunman accompanying sp leader Talat Aziz. The police and

administration have remained mute spectators with the political

leadership looking the other way. All this has given him an air of

invincibility. Muslims have been given to understand that neither the

Bahujan Samaj Party, nor the sp is willing to rein him in. Perhaps the

SP is seeking to counter Mayawati’s Brahmin card with its own Thakur

card by indulging him. The Congress is nowhere and also lacks a will

to take him on. All this leaves the Muslims here with no option but to

resign themselves to their fate.

This time, however, his plans went awry. On the night of January

26-27, Pankaj Rai, a history-sheeter, and his gang chased a dance

party performing at a marriage. They mingled with a Muharram

procession and the processionists thought that they were being

attacked. Suddenly a gunshot was heard, which the then administration

thinks was Rai’s act. As panic set in, more people — both Hindu and

Muslim — were beaten up and a young man, Raj Kumar Agrahari, was badly

injured and hospitalised. The District Magistrate (DM) was informed at

1.30am and he told officials to brief Adityanath that he should not

visit the site. Initially, the MP agreed. But as Agrahari died,

Adityanath declared that now he would go to the spot and seek revenge

for the killing of a Hindu by Muslims. He reached the spot with his

lumpen who destroyed a mazhar. He declared his resolve to ensure

justice for the Hindus, swords were flashed before the dm and senior

police officers. Short of policemen, the administration tried to

persuade the MP to vacate the place but he didn’t budge.

When the now-determined dm took the dagger away from a goon, they

charged towards him and demanded the dagger back. Upon this, the dm

ordered the police to disperse them by force. Suddenly the MP found

himself facing a situation that was not in the script. Afraid that the

lathis might find Adityanath, his well-wishers cried out for

compromise. The MP demanded that curfew be imposed and withdrew.

Though the dm didn’t think a curfew was required as the violence was

designed to disrupt Muharram, he agreed to the MP’s demand.

Later, however, Adityanath announced a torchlight procession. The

administration succeeded in preventing it from moving but it was

captured on camera and a non-procession was turned into one by the

willing media. Emboldened, he announced a Shraddhanjali Sabha the next

day at the town’s busiest crossroad. By this time, the dm had resolved

not to allow it any further as the police reinforcements were in. He

issued orders that no meeting was to be allowed and that any violator

was to be arrested. With unambiguous orders, the police moved.

Adityanath dismissed the warning as a hollow threat but landed in an

unforeseen situation. He and his ‘followers’ were taken to the police

line. Soon, a police van arrived and the detained people were asked to

board the jail-bound vehicle. Adityanath jumped into the bus,

declaring that he cannot leave his followers. To their surprise, the

bus started moving and they realised that they were in trouble. The

three-km journey to the jail took more than 90 minutes as his goons

pelted stones and every other means to block the van but to no avail.

For the first time in his life, Adityanath is jailed under Section

151A of the crpc only to find later that he has also been booked under

Sections 146, 147, 279, 506 of the Indian Penal Code for leading the

attack on the mazhar. On the strength of this fir, Adityanath is

remanded to 14-day judicial custody.

On January 29, his followers assembled at Gorakhnath Temple that falls

in an area where more than 50 percent of the population is Muslim.

They start hrowing stones and burning tyres in the direction of the

Muslim locality and on the road. But there is no retaliation from the

other side.

Dr Hari Om, the then dm in-charge, wishes to put it on record that not

a single incident of slogan-shouting or stone-pelting was resorted to

by Muslims. He wants the world to know that although much grieved by

the decision to impose curfew as it hampered Muharram, the Muslims,

led by the venerable Miyan saheb, assured the administration of all

cooperation as peace was more important and kept their word.

Meanwhile, the media kept screaming that Gorakhpur was burning, the

walls of the Gorakhnath Temple were demolished. Which, of course, was

a naked lie.

And all of a sudden, the dm was informed that he’s been shunted along

with the superintendent of police. As he moved away, Rashid, a Muslim

youth, was killed. It is a matter of discussion in Gorakhpur that it

was done by a Hindu Yuva Vahini man who injured himself to use it as a

cover. Newspapers flashed the pictures of the Yuva Vahini man’s

bandaged leg, obliterating the killing of Rashid altogether.

So where was the riot, as imagined by the interested media, asks Hari

Om. From January 27 to 29, Adityanath and his goons laid siege to

Gorakhpur without any provocation from Muslims. A mazhar was gutted,

masjids and shops of Muslims destroyed, government properties damaged

by the gangs, stone pelting on the police by his goons: do these make

a perfect riot? A riot involves some degree of involvement of two

warring groups. How is it that areas with substantial Muslim

population did not experience any untoward incident barring the

planned attacks of Adityanath’s gangs? Why did cm Mulayam Singh Yadav

remove the officers who jailed the BJP MP who was hell-bent on

destroying peace? Why did the officers’ successors go straight to

Adityanath for forgiveness? Why did the media fail to report the facts

as facts?

Hari Om has one regret — that he had assured Muslims that by giving a

reprieve of 7-8 hours in the curfew on January 29, he would ensure

that the Muharram tradition was not disturbed. However, the moment he

was removed, Rashid was killed to celebrate it as Adityanath’s victory

and the curfew was extended. Tazias remained where they were. The

Muslims kept their word, he did not. This young officer has just one

question for his country: can a community feel at home where it is

prevented from even mourning by all kinds of machination? Can a

community celebrate its existence in a country where law-keepers look

over their shoulders when it is attacked? Such is the sad story of

Uttar Pradesh, the truth of one of the many riots that were not.

First published in, Feb 17, 2007


Yogi Adityanath: The way of the sword and the monk’s cowl

How BJP’s Yogi Adityanath has used religious polarisation to trump

caste divide in Uttar Pradesh

Aman Sethi | Gorakhpur

March 18, 2017 Last Updated at 19:34 IST

Business Standard is republishing this April 2014 profile as the

Bharatiya Janata Party’s legislature has unanimously elected Yogi

Adityanath as its leader and the next chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.

From 8 am to 10 am each morning, Yogi Adityanath, high priest of the

Gorakhnath mandir and Gorakhpur’s Member of Parliament from the

Bharatiya Janata Party since 1998, tends to his constituency from a

low desk in a spacious room in the administrative block of the

temple’s sprawling lands.

Assisting him is a team of scribes, seated cross-legged on the ground

before a set of ancient Devnagari-script typewriters, balanced on

bricks wrapped in old newspaper. Petitioners pass through a security

check, leave their shoes at the gate, and approach the priest with

folded hands and bowed heads.

Adityanath - short, stocky, and clad in saffron robes, thick

transparent plastic earrings, and vermillion socks - listens with the

fragile patience of a self-consciously busy man. “Write an

application,” he occasionally declares. The clerks nod dutifully and

slide another sheet of paper into the typewriter.

Recent reports describe Adityanath - a Hindutva hardliner, and prime

accused in Gorakhpur’s 2007 communal riots - as a key coordinator of

the BJP’s election strategy for Uttar Pradesh, the state with the most

Lok Sabha seats. He first won the Gorakhpur seat when 26-years-old;

now 42, he has fashioned himself as the BJP’s most recognised face in

east Uttar Pradesh.

The BJP has spoken of a wave in favour of their prime ministerial

candidate, Narendra Modi, but Lokniti-CSDS post-election surveys over

the past 15 years establish that a quarter to a third of the

electorate vote on the individual qualities of a candidate rather than

the party she represents, suggesting many seats could turn into

head-to-head contests between candidates with specific local

histories, rather than the competing narratives of Modi and Rahul


In 1999, Yogi Adityanath won Gorakhpur by the slimmest of margins -

7,339 votes; 10 years later in 2009, he romped home with a winning

margin of 2,20,000 votes. This year, locals are speculating on the

winning margin, rather than the possibility of his victory, despite no

particular signs of progress in this constituency.

Gorakhpur appears a melancholic border town on the Uttar Pradesh-Nepal

border, yet to overcome the loss of its fertiliser factory, shuttered

in 1990, its sugar mills that collapsed over the next decade, and its

children - claimed by the hundreds every year by Japanese

encephalitis. Male and female workforce participation is amongst the

lowest in the country and a little more than 70 per cent of households

still do not have an indoor toilet.

Over 15 years, Adityanath, an upper caste Kshatriya, has sunk deep

roots in Gorakhpur. His clerks resolve squabbles in city

neighbourhoods; his foot soldiers from the Hindu Yuva Vahini have been

criticised for engineering riots in the countryside. His inflammatory

anti-Muslim rhetoric has polarised eastern Uttar Pradesh, while his

position as the mahant of the Gorakhnath temple lends his

pronouncements an air of mystical profundity.

This election season, the BJP has publicly focused on the need for

good governance and development and steered clear of overt communal

and regional propaganda but on the ground, Modi is banking on regional

satraps like Adityanath to bring in the votes at all costs.

“We solve problems,” said Dwarika Tiwari, Adityanath’s head clerk,

gesturing to his typewriter, his telephone, and a stack of tattered

notebooks filled with telephone numbers gathered over decades, “We

write to the appropriate authorities, we telephone the superintendent

of police, we inform the district magistrate and tell him to


Jung Bahadur, a retired infantryman, has come on behalf of his

grandson, “Rajbir, my grandson ran away with a dhobi caste girl. Her

parents say she was kidnapped. He is in police detention.” Chandra

Prakash Gupta, dismissed from a private distillery eight years ago,

has been coming ever since in search of a job. Suresh Sharma, a

Gorakhpur resident now employed as an accountant in Chennai, has

dropped by to have his photograph taken with the yogi, “I go to the

BJP office in Chennai; it is good to have a photo to show them.”

No problem is too small for Adityanath’s attention, no trouble too

trifling. “We’ll do whatever is needed,” Tiwari said, as he churned

out the latest application on official MP letterheads, “This? This one

is for someone who urgently needs a train reservation using the MP


An MP is expected to legislate, hold the executive to account and

represent the interests of her constituency in Parliament. Adityanath,

for his part, has sponsored five Bills - there was one in 2009, asking

the Centre to pass a national law banning cow slaughter, another to

change the country’s name from “India that is Bharat” to “Bharat that

is Hindustan”, and a third banning forced religious conversions. He

has also called on the Allahabad High Court to set up a bench in

Gorakhpur, and for a uniform civil code.

Yet, in their constituencies back home, MPs aren’t judged by House

attendance, questions asked, or participation in debates, but on their

ability to leverage the state on behalf of their constituents.

Most MPs have neither the funds nor staff to implement big-ticket

projects that could ensure re-election.

For example, a representative can spend Rs 5 crore per year on her

constituency under the MP Local Area Development Scheme, which works

out to a total of Rs 400 crore a year for Uttar Pradesh’s 80 Lok Sabha

members; a minuscule sum compared with the state government’s budgeted

expenditure of Rs 221,201 crore for this year. This is where

Adityanath’s morning meetings prove crucial.

“Voters perceive the role of MPs as that of a problem solver,” said

Chakshu Roy of PRS Legislative Research, explaining MPs are often

voted for doing everything apart from their constitutionally mandated

jobs, “Voter expectations, therefore, align the incentive structure

for MPs to address constituency concerns at the cost of their

legislative responsibilities.”

Further, before selling their message to their electorates,

prospective MPs must first convince their own parties of their

candidature - this makes the creation of a committed base and local

politics even more critical. Rajnath Singh could replace BJP stalwart

Lalji Tandon in Lucknow, but no one is likely to replace Adityanath in


“The public is deeply attached to my name, to my thought process, to

me,” said Adityanath in an interview soon after his durbar, “The

public wants their elected representative to be in touch with them.”

Through his daily hearings, he said, “I have a constant conversation

with the public about their personal problems, problems with the

administration, problems with a powerful oppressive person. That is

why they vote for me.”

Yet, any other candidate could arguably set up an equally efficient

grievances cell. Adityanath’s biggest asset, his critics said, is an

amorphous vigilante army of youth organised as the Hindu Yuva Vahini

and tasked with protecting the Hindu faith.

In 1999, Yogi Adityanath made front-page news as an MP. “BJP out to

protect trigger-happy MP” ran the second lead on the March 6 Lucknow

edition of The Times of India, detailing an extraordinary story that

began as a minor dispute over the fate of a peepul tree in a Muslim

graveyard in a faraway village, acquired increasingly communal

overtones, and ended with Adityanath desecrating the graveyard and his

supporters fatally shooting a 26-year-old policeman in the face.

“A pattern emerged,” said Manoj Singh, a senior journalist in

Gorakhpur, “Yogiji or his supporters would interfere in a

village-level fight between two communities and turn it into a big

case of Hinduism under threat.”

An anecdotal list of communal incidents compiled by Singh describes

the vigilante group’s involvement in at least 18 separate incidents of

communal violence since 1999. While the 2007 Gorakhpur riots, in which

a Hindu man was killed and hundreds of Muslim shops burnt, were widely

reported, the incomprehensible banality of minor incidents makes for

more chilling reading.

In 2002, for instance, Adityanath and his followers arrived at

Gorakhpur’s Turkmanpur locality and escalated a squabble between a

Hindu and Muslim over who spat paan on whom into a full-blown communal

confrontation in which stones were thrown, a street brawl erupted and

the police were called in.

Adityanath insists the Yuva Vahini is simply a cultural organisation.

“Our philosophy is to live and let live, but if someone puts their

hand on our throats, we have the right to remove that hand by force if

need be,” he said.

Yet, his critics, both inside and outside the BJP, said Adityanath’s

vigilante army was set up to build a power base and grassroots network

independent of the the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. BJP

leaders begged off from commenting on Adityanath or his politics. “To

be honest, I don’t have the time,” said Varun Gandhi, the BJP’s other

star campaigner in Uttar Pradesh, before hanging up.

His critics in the Congress were more forthcoming.

“Adityanath is undoubtedly a rabble rouser. His speeches are venomous

and vitriolic even in Parliament,” said Jairam Ramesh, the Congress

leader who most recently served as the Union minister for rural

development, “He is more of a politician than a sanyasi, peddling a

very destructive ideology of hate and prejudice.”

In the meantime, the Yuva Vahini has expanded its influence across the

region and its strategy of casting routine street fights as

ideological struggles is paying dividends.

Last month in Rasoolpur, a village in Azamgarh constituency, 100 km

south of Gorakhpur, a group of Hindu youth decided to build a brick

enclosure around a Hindu deity installed under a roadside tree. The

Muslims protested, a fight broke out and a young Muslim man was shot.

He survived but his friends grabbed Vijay Pratap Yadav, a father of

four and the brother of the sarpanch of Rasoolpur, and beat him to


Days after Yadav’s death, the local representative of the Hindu Vahini

contacted his elder brother, Uma Shankar, and asked him to join the

vigilantes. “Of course, something will have to be done,” Uma Shankar

said in a recent interview at his house, “The Muslims have terrorised


Despite the fact that Mulayam Singh Yadav, leader of the Samajwadi

Party, will contest from Azamgarh this time, Uma Shankar said the

family was switching allegiance from the Samajwadi Party, the party of

choice for most Yadavs, to the BJP.

“The Samajwadi Party thinks it wins because of the Muslims, so let’s

see what happens when the Yadavs leave it,” he said, “I think we will

join the Yuva Vahini, and if we do, we will bring another 50 men with

us for Yogiji.”


With each generation, Gorakhpur’s mahants have harnessed the Goraknath

temple to consolidate their unchallenged hold on power

1967: The high priests of the Gorakhnath Mandir have played a role in

Eastern UP’s politics since Mahant Digvijai Nath represented the

constituency in the Lok Sabha from 1967 to 1971 from the Hindu


1984: Digvijaynath’s successor, Mahant Avaidyanath, sets up the Sri

Ramjanmabhoomi Mukti Yagna Samiti and leads a march from Sitarmahi,

Bihar, to Ayodhya to “liberate” the temple. Avaidyanath served as an

MLA from nearby Maniram from 1962 to 1980 and as Gorakhpur’s MP from

1989 to 1996, frequently using the Ram Janmabhoomi issue to garner


1992: Avaidyanath plays a crucial role in mobilising crowds around the

destruction of the Babri Masjid. On the eve of the demolition, the

mahant is spotted on the terraces of the ‘Ram Katha Kunj’, the

building facing the Mosque, among senior leaders such as L K Advani

and Ashok Singhal, according to court documents

1998: Avaidyanath retires from politics and his role as the head of

the Goraknath temple. His protege, Ajay Bisht - a disciple from

Uttrakhand who takes on the moniker Yogi Adityanath - wins the

Gorakhpur constituency at the age of 26

2014: With the Ramjanmabhoomi issue losing its appeal, Adityanath

recasts village level conflicts as religious ones and is set to win

his fourth full term

Peace Is Doable


[The sense of doom returns.

Of course, it was always there. But, at least to an extent, at the

back of the mind.

Now, it is right in front, staring hard into eyes.

“The chants of “Sabka saath sabka vikas” on Saturday gave away to

frenzied cries of “Jai Shree Ram” and “UP mein rahena hoga toh Yogi

Yogi kahena hoga” as the BJP’s Gorakhpur MP, Ajay Singh alias Yogi

Adityanath, known for his divisive past and politics, was anointed as

the next chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.”]

Focus on Mandir in run-up to 2019 general elections


Updated : Mar 19, 2017, 6:43 am IST

After demonetisation, Modi’s 2nd gamble ahead of 2019, claims BJP leader.

New Delhi: ***The chants of “Sabka saath sabka vikas” on Saturday

gave away to frenzied cries of “Jai Shree Ram” and “UP mein rahena

hoga toh Yogi Yogi kahena hoga” as the BJP’s Gorakhpur MP, Ajay Singh

alias Yogi Adityanath, known for his divisive past and politics, was

anointed as the next chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.*** [Emphasis


Sources said putting the Hindutva hawk and founder of the Hindu Yuva

Vahini at the helm of affairs in UP was a “conscious decision by the

BJP top brass in consultation with the RSS”. The decision to pick

Adityanath as chief minister was sealed at a meeting between BJP chief

Amit Shah and RSS’ second-in-command Bhaiyyaji Joshi in Mumbai last


The BJP now appears all set to step up the politics of polarisation

ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in order to consolidate the entire

Hindu votebank, cutting across caste dynamics, with Uttar Pradesh seen

as the gateway to New Delhi, some in the party feel. One of the main

things that Yogi Adityanath is expected to focus on is the

construction the Ram temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya.

Talking about the decision, a BJP leader said: “After demonetisation,

this is Modi’s second gamble before the 2019 elections.” It was,

however, also felt in some circles that Adityanath’s choice as chief

minister runs the risk of the resurrection of a decimated Opposition

in UP as well as across the country.

Moderates in the BJP who had been claiming that the UP mandate was a

vote for “development” appeared stunned and till the last moment some

top UP leaders kept saying that “it could not be true”.

The decision to make Adityanath chief minister was a closely guarded

secret and a number of other names, including that of Union minister

Manoj Sinha, were kept in circulation to keep everyone guessing.

A top Cabinet minister, speaking to this newspaper late on Friday

night, said: “It’s decided. Manoj Sinha will be the CM.” Unaware of

the developments behind closed doors, a confident and beaming Mr Sinha

went Saturday morning to temples in Varanasi to offer prayers. By the

afternoon he was snapping at the media, and accusing them of dragging

his name into the race “unnecessarily”.

To find out the reasons for this somewhat contentious decision, this

newspaper spoke to several senior BJP and RSS leaders. Sources said

even before the UP polls were under way, the RSS and BJP decided to

“seriously start the process of building the much-promised Ram Mandir

at Ayodhya if the BJP won the polls.” Both outfits felt the

construction of the “much-awaited Ram temple will galvanise the

majority of the Hindu community in the BJP’s favour before the 2019

general election.” For this, they needed a strong Hindutva icon and

therefore zeroed in on Adityanath.

Yet Yogi Adityanath was not given any clear indication during the

campaign, but merely told he “will have no reason to complain… and

be given a major responsibility if the party came to power in the


While the BJP refused to give any commitments, two top RSS leaders

reassured Adityanath that “his name for the CM’s post will be

seriously considered”. At the same time it was made clear he could be

made chief minister only if the BJP managed to come to power in the

state on its own. Adityanath apparently promised that the “Ram Mandir

will be a reality” if he was made CM,” sources said.

Before the UP elections, a conscious decision was taken to play to the

Hindu gallery when the BJP decided not to give tickets to a single

Muslim candidate, the sources said. The party’s historic victory, with

well over 300 seats in the 403-member Assembly, vindicated the party

strategy to stick to the Hindu votebank and “isolate” Muslims as far

as electoral politics was concerned.

In the entire UP campaign, the BJP kept two narratives running side by

side. One was of development while the other was of strident Hindutva.

It may be recalled that before the UP election, a survey was done of

party cadres to decide on the main electoral plank. A majority of BJP

workers and leaders said “Hindutva and nationalism” should be the main

planks in UP.

While speaking about development, top BJP leaders including the Prime

Minister touched on communally-sensitive issues during the campaign.

At the same time, Adityanath and other saffron fringe elements kept

their divisive rhetoric going.

Adityanath had earlier attacked Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan,

saying he “should remember that if people boycott his films, he would

also have to wander in the streets like a normal Muslim… These

people are speaking in the language of terrorists. I think there is no

difference between the language of Shah Rukh Khan and Hafiz Saeed”. He

had also earlier targeted Mother Teresa for “conspiring to

Christianise India”.

Peace Is Doable

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