June 21, 2024


Will the Uttar Pradesh setback impact Yogi Adityanath’s future?

(Image credit: Yogi Adityanath’s X post)

If there was one state that political pundits and analysts weren’t worried about for the BJP, it was Uttar Pradesh. It was thought this was a bastion for the party, given that just a few months back, the state was the setting for the highly anticipated Ram Mandir inauguration. This was meant to bolster and bring more voters into the BJP coalition.

Turns out many got their predictions wrong. Even with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s influence, the BJP’s vote share fell, and the Samajwadi Party (SP)-Congress alliance made significant inroads. It performed relatively well in neighbouring states, which makes the Uttar Pradesh result a harder pill to swallow for the BJP. But is this a turning point for Yogi Adityanath? Is his political future dented?


The headlines wrote themselves as the exit polls were announced across TV channels – the BJP will sweep Uttar Pradesh. Predictions gave the BJP anywhere between 60 and 67 seats. Some even predicted 70. In 2019, the BJP-led NDA won 64 seats. Of course, exit polls can be wrong, and they were to such an extent that it caught many off guard.

The BJP won only 33 seats. The SP-Congress alliance won 37 seats. In the campaign phase, one could be forgiven for thinking that Yogi and Modi, with their Hindutva-centric development rhetoric, were powerful forces. Many missed a strong undercurrent of anger and disappointment with the BJP unless they were on the ground listening to people.

Another big shock was that in Faizabad, the constituency that includes the Ram temple, the BJP lost. While Modi won his constituency, his margin of victory reduced from 4.8 lakh to 1.5 lakh. Many constituencies near Varanasi, where the BJP hoped Modi would be a guiding light, went to the INDIA alliance.

Yogi Adityanath has been associated with the BJP in one way or another since his youth, joining the party in 1991. He was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1998. In the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat riots, a young Yogi saw an opening and formed the Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV). It was a “cultural organisation”, but not really.

His group propagated the Hindutva ideology across the state as they began to spread their wings. In the aftermath of a speech he gave in 2007 in which he threatened revenge for the death of a Hindu boy, riots broke out in Gorakhpur, his district, and nearby ones. His efforts to instil law and order in troubled areas with his fellow HVY members stopped when they were arrested.

Following his release in 2007, the years were quiet. After the BJP’s 2014 victory, he projected himself as a Chief Ministerial candidate for the 2017 state polls. The Hindutva rhetoric didn’t take a back seat. He won and was made Chief Minister.

The 2024 results were clearly a shock. Yogi called for a review meeting of all his ministers just a few days after the results. The BJP is also undertaking its own analysis of what went wrong. Is Yogi to blame? If so, does that affect his political future?

VIEW: It’s a big personal setback

If brand BJP has been dented, then so has brand Yogi. He spearheaded the BJP’s campaign in the state. He was among the most vocal about the Ram temple and mentioned it several times in his speeches. He addressed nearly 170 meetings across the state and even campaigned in other states. Clearly, the BJP saw him as someone worthy and capable enough of carrying their message. That could now change.

The results showed that all the talk of cracking down on criminals, law and order, development, restoring the “lost” glory of Hindu religious spots, and Muslim appeasement didn’t resonate as much as the BJP or Yogi thought it would. It all led to the party’s biggest defeat in the state. If Yogi took credit for the 2022 assembly poll result, then this defeat is on him.

The cultivated image of invincibility no longer applies to him. A few days before the votes were counted, Yogi predicted the Modi government would be elected with a full majority. He was only partially correct. Following several years as Chief Minister, it was clear Yogi was positioning himself as a next-generation leader of the BJP, perhaps even for a national role. If the results showed anything, it’s that people didn’t buy what he was selling.

COUNTERVIEW: Wrong to write him off

It’s understandable why people would want to mainly blame Yogi for the BJP’s poor performance in the state. He’s the Chief Minister after all. For some BJP leaders, that would be a mistake. Here’s why – he wasn’t involved or consulted on candidate selection. He also wasn’t given a free hand when running the administration.

What happened in the state had more to do with non-cooperation from state government employees and sitting MPs and infighting among party workers. There was also a false narrative going around that the Constitution would be changed and reservations abolished if the BJP retained power. Several candidates also commented that the Thakurs’ rallies on caste and their mobilisation worked against the BJP.

One thing’s for sure, a lot of people in the state care about development, employment, and inflation. Yogi has seemingly taken this to heart. He asked his cabinet to double down on development and do away with VIP culture. The state has developed leaps and bounds thanks to his policies. For example, 55 lakh people now have homes thanks to Mukhyamantri Awas Yojana. The future of the state depends on Yogi. The past few years have proven that development is no longer a dream but a reality.

Reference Links:

  • Yogi Adityanath: UP setback may impact dreams of national role – Hindustan Times
  • Will BJP’s poor show in Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha polls impact Yogi’s prospects in state? – The New Indian Express
  • Why Uttar Pradesh Needs Yogi Adityanath – News18
  • UP results a setback not just for the BJP, but for Yogi Adityanath too – The New Indian Express
  • Lok Sabha Elections 2024: ‘Brand Yogi’ severely dented in Uttar Pradesh – Deccan Herald
  • Modi-Yogi factor not enough? BJP’s poor show in UP comes as a reality check for ‘Bulldozer Baba’ – The Economic Times

What is your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)

a) The Uttar Pradesh setback will impact Yogi Adityanath’s future.

b) The Uttar Pradesh setback won’t impact Yogi Adityanath’s future.


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