For UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Fight For Gorakhpur Is a Legacy Battle
In 1935, Mahant DIgvijaynath was appointed as the head of the Gorakhnath Math in Gorakhpur, a post that Adityanath now holds. While Digvijaynath died in 1969, three years before Adityanath was even born, the UP CM seems to have modelled himself after the former Mahant.
File photo of Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath.
New Delhi: As the results of the Gorakhpur by-elections poured in, the Samajwadi Party has taken the lead after the first few rounds. For Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who vacated this seat last year after taking over the reins in Lucknow, the battle for Gorakhpur is more than just a litmus test of his government. For Yogi, this is a legacy battle.
In 1935, Mahant DIgvijaynath was appointed as the head of the Gorakhnath Math in Gorakhpur, a post that Adityanath now holds. While Digvijaynath died in 1969, three years before Adityanath was even born, the UP CM seems to have modelled himself after the former Mahant. Like Adityanath, Digvijaynath was a rebel. Even as the Mahant, he remained a part of active politics.
Digvijaynath, earlier a Congressman, joined the VD Savarkar-led Hindu Mahasabha. Like Adityanath, he came to be known for his vitriolic statements against Muslims, even demanding that they be stripped off the right to vote till they “proved their loyalty to India”.
It was during his time that the Gorakhnath Math, once venerated by Hindus and Muslims alike, assumed a decidedly Hindu nationalist character. However, it was his involvement with the Ram Mandir agitation of 1949 that made him shoot into prominence.
Digvijaynath played a leading role in the temple movement. It is said that he was behind the placement of Ram and Sita idols inside the Babri Masjid, though Hindu hardliners had claimed the idols had “appeared” inside the mosque. After the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, he was jailed for nine months. Upon his release from prison, he attempted to revive the Hindu Mahasabha. In 1967, he was elected as the MP from Gorakhpur, a seat which would eventually send Adityanath to the Lok Sabha five times before his elevation to the CM post.
His disciple and successor Avaidyanath, who was Adityanath’s spiritual guru, maintained the political character of the Gorakhnath Math. When the Ram Temple struggle was revived in the 1980s, Avaidyanath became a prominent leader of the movement. In 1984, much before BJP leader LK Advani embarked on his infamous Ram Rath Yatra, Avaidyanath launched a Yatra of his own from Bihar’s Sitamarhi to Ayodhya. Avaidyanath entered politics like his guru had done before him and his disciple would do after him. He became the MLA from Maniram seven times and MP from Gorakhpur four times.
Gorakhpur elected Avaidyanath to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1970, a year after his Guru’s death, and then again in 1989, 1991 and 1996. It was in 1998 that Yogi Adityanath, on a BJP ticket, became the MP from Gorakhpur at the young age of 26. With Yogi moving to Lucknow, the hold of the Gorakhpur Math over political power in the eastern UP town seems to have loosened.
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