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Yogi Adityanath is UP CM, Maurya, Dinesh Sharma Deputies; Swearing-in Today

By anointing Yogi Adityanath as the next Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have achieved four goals simultaneously — quelling internal dissent, preparing ground for 2019 Lok Sabha polls, keeping the RSS in check and buying time for the Ram Mandir issue.

Updated:March 19, 2017, 9:39 AM IST

Lucknow: By anointing Yogi Adityanath as the next Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have achieved four goals simultaneously — quelling internal dissent, preparing ground for 2019 Lok Sabha polls, keeping the RSS in check and buying time for the Ram Mandir issue.

ALSO READ | Yogi Adityanath: From Head of Mystical Mutt to Uttar Pradesh CM

Continuing with their habit of defying predictions, Modi-Shah seem to spring another surprise by opting for the least risky alternative.

The BJP had secured a huge majority in the state and they seem to have based their decision, of appointing its Chief Minister, on the fact that the biggest threat to the government was from inside the party rather than outside it.

The BJP's entirely Hindu legislature was made with support from a cross section of communities — Thakurs, Brahmins, Binds, Kurmis, Khushwahas, Shakyas, Nishads, Pasis etc.

ALSO READ | Top 5 Controversial Statements of Hindu Hardliner Yogi Adityanath

The party high command knew that having brought together such a diverse social group in Uttar Pradesh, sustaining it for five years was going to the biggest challenge. Internal dissent was bound to set in as soon as the Chief Minister and his cabinet were sworn in.

And the last thing that the party would want is to be fire-fighting Uttar Pradesh which is crucial for 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

By appointing Yogi Adityanath, a Thakur, the BJP seemed to have prevented this possibility. Adityanath was undoubtedly the most popular BJP leader in the state. He held most of the rallies in the state and, apart from Prime Minister, drew the biggest crowds in his poll speeches.

The BJP high command seems to have realised that a strong Hindutva emotion will be the only glue to keep the party cadre together for the next five years, and help it in 2019.

Among all the candidates whose names were being discussed as probables for the UP CM's role, Adityanath is the most popular party leader, not just among the party supporters but among the cadre as well.

Adityanath's authority, which stems from taking a strident anti-minority position, also will give him a leverage over anyone else talking about the plight of Hindus or raking up Ram Mandir issue.

The other front-runners like Manoj Sinha have had limited exposure with the Sangh and almost no popularity outside their native district of Ghazipur.

On the other hand, a five-time MP from Gorakhpur, he was the only BJP leader to have maintained a sustained BJP presence East of Varanasi.

ALSO READ | 10 Things to Know About Yogi Adityanath, the Next UP CM

Even when the BSP and the SP swept Uttar Pradesh in 2007 and 2012 polls, Adityanath did not let Gorakhpur and adjoining areas slip out of BJP's clutches.

A source close to Adityanath says that the fiery Hindutva leader made several calculated decisions, which many would not have expected of him, in the run-up to the UP polls.

"Most of the people thought him to be a brash, outspoken Hindu leader who gave little attention to his own political career, but that was not the case. Over the past couple of years he curbed his natural instinct and established a very close rapport with Amit Shah."

The BJP party president would even campaign for him in Gorakhpur recently.

Unlike the previous Mahants of Gorakhnath Math, who were contended with being MPs from Gorakhpur, Adityanath has allowed no doubt about the fact that he'd set his eyes far and wide.

From the Mayor to MLAs to the bureaucrats, everyone in and around Gorakhpur is known to have been handpicked by Adityanath.

The source added, "BJP minus Adityanath is nothing in Poorvanchal and the party understands it."

Even when his cadre staged a revolt against him, as they do before every election, Adityanath maintained his cool and stayed with the BJP. "The masses were watching the manner in which BJP was treating Adityanath and the feeling that he was being slighted, was setting in."

The other thing that worked in his favour was that by while Adityanath was carrying out Sangh's agenda, he had almost decimated RSS and Sangh's influence from Gorakhpur, by establishing his own parallel army - the Hindu Yuva Vahini.

"Just like Modi in Gujarat, Adityanath changed the equations with the RSS and the rest of the Sangh. It was not him but them who had to curry favour with him. With his thousands of volunteers from Vahini, and unbridled support from followers at Gorakhnath Math."

But Modi and Shah may have taken a huge gamble with Adityanath as well. Their chief worry now, having set a platform for UP, will be how to contain him.

Being made the Chief Minister Adityanath will only grow from here. Just like in Gorakhpuur, Adityanath has maintained his own personality and influence, distinct from BJP, in Poorvanchal, which has only grown over time.

Whether the two political pundits will reign in the 44-year-old firebrand leader over the next five years will be interesting to watch.

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