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Yogi Adityanath's Hindu Yuva Vahini is Growing, And BJP is Not Very Happy

Sumit Pande | CNN-News18

Updated: May 13, 2017, 1:11 PM IST
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Yogi Adityanath's Hindu Yuva Vahini is Growing, And BJP is Not Very Happy
Hindu Yuva Vahini members take part in a rally. (Photo Credit: Reuters/ Cathal McNaughton)

New Delhi: Less than two months after installing Yogi Adityanath as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, there is a nagging concern within the BJP on the influence of Hindu Yuva Vahini, and the party's relationship with an organisation which is not an offshoot of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Vahini was the brainchild of Yogi Adityanath who has nurtured it since taking over the reins of Gorakhnath math and entering active politics as an MP from Gorakhpur. The Vahini's area of influence was earlier confined to Poorvanchal districts of eastern UP, but Yogi's ascension to power has brought about exponential growth in its membership across the state.

At the state executive of the BJP held in the first week of May in Lucknow, Yogi's deputy Keshav Maurya was the first senior party leader to raise this issue.

Maurya, who continues to be the party state president till a replacement is found, broached the subject in his valedictory address. Sources say the old Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) hand, without mincing words and without naming the Vahini, said the growing influence of "outsiders" was not acceptable. And that "priority" at all costs needs to be given to the party cadre and workers.

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Even at the time of Yogi's nomination to the top post in Uttar Pradesh, the RSS and senior BJP leaders had pondered over how an independent organisation like Yuva Vahini, owing allegiance to a person and not the Sangh per se, may alter power dynamics in the state. Sources in the RSS say it was expected that the Vahini would slowly melt into the larger Sangh cauldron.

Even in the past, both Yogi Adityanath and his predecessor Yogi Avaidyanath preferred to maintain a distinct identity for themselves and their math, even in the face of VHP's growing footprint during the Ram Temple movement. While other maths from Ayodhya and elsewhere were subsumed by the collective identity of VHP-supported Janmbhoomi Nyas, which spearheaded the temple movement, Yogi and his predecessor, though associated with the campaign, had successfully carved a niche for themselves both in politics and religious activities.

There have been occasions in the past when Yogi Adityanath has had to go against the BJP to assert his authority on home turf.

For instance, he successfully backed and secured a victory for Radha Mohan Das Agarwal against the party nominee from Gorakhpur in 2002 assembly polls. Agarwal contested and won on Hindu Mahasabha ticket and later joined the BJP.

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Perhaps sensing the unease within the party on the co-existence of Hindu Yuva Vahini along with that of Sangh affiliates, the Vahini recently announced a year-long embargo on fresh recruitments to its ranks.

But it is yet to be seen whether this is enough to calm raw nerves within the BJP and the RSS.

First Published: May 13, 2017, 8:50 AM IST
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