What was common between the itinerary of Ashok Singhal, International President of Vishwa Hindu Parishad; Major General Bharat Keshar Singh, President of Vishwa Hindu Mahasangh; the Shankaracharya of Puri Nishalananda, Jagadguru Madhwacharya Shri Vishesh Teerth ( Udupi), Jagadguru Ramananandacharya Vasudevacharya and Subramaniam Swamy during the last week of December. Interestingly all of them were part of a three day Virat Hindu Mahasammelan (22-24 th Dec 2006) held at Gorakhpur, UP which was formally organised to deliberate on the ‘Challenges Before Hinduism’.
Of course the way the deliberations unfolded it was clear to even a layperson that it had nothing to do with challenges before Hinduism – neither of the spiritual or the temporal kind – rather it was a gathering to chalk out a political programme couched in religious parlance to further the agenda of Hindutva – the strategy of the political Hinduism.
An important feature of this Mahasammelan was that it was organised parallel to the National Executive Meeting of the BJP at Lucknow.Interestingly while the media was more focussed on the deliberations of the National Executive meeting or was busy reporting about intraparty squabbles , not many people even deemed it necessary to report or comment on this massive gathering of people in the heart of Eastern UP which was rather queering the pitch for the new battles lying ahead before Hindutva.And the moving force behind this jamboree of non-descript Sadhus or Hindutva politicos was a young BJP MP Yogi Adityanath from Gorakhpur who also happens to be the anointed successor to the Goraksha Peeth based in Gorakhpur itself.
The Mahasammelan/congregation not only called for declaration of Nepal as ‘Hindu State and restoration of monarchy there but also resolved for the construction of a grand temple in Ayodhya, and “liberation” of the Kashi and Mathura shrines, ban on cow slaughter.It also criticised the Indian Government stand on Nepal and said no political party was taking Maoists’ activities seriously.It also deliberated on the ‘pathetic’ condition of the Hindus in Nepal and the alleged activities of ISI of Pakistan there which was supposedly spreading its network to create disturbance in India. And while the BJP seemed to waver initially on the agenda of construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya, in its executive meeting, the Mahasammelan which was in a sense a show of defiance by its own party MP, seemed to focus itself on these very agendas over which the BJP seemed to be going soft because of political exigencies.It is a different matter that at the end of its meeting the Party itself discovered the ‘merits’ in raising this issue and go whole hog riding on a rabid Hindutva agenda.
Question naturally arises whether the ‘party with a difference’ which wears discipline on its sleeves has decided to tail its own ‘defiant’ MP or it is part of a wider gameplan of the Hindutva brigade which has seen for itself the ‘success’ of this model in this part of UP – a model which has the potential of making it another ‘Hindutva laboratory’.
It was a marker of things to come that when Gujarat was burning in the aftermath of Godhra with the fire directed at minorities Gorakhpur was not far behind. Many parallel instances of terrorizing the minorities , razing their houses to ground all under the leadership of this ‘firebrand’ leader had come to light. Loud proclamation of turning Gorakhpur into Godhra-Gujarat were also heard. In the post-Godhra bandh a leader of Hindu Mahasabha and considered as the right hand man of Yogi in his speech had declared, ” If only Yogiji permits us we will repay a hundred per each.”
Looking at the fact that the media in this part of UP went all out to ‘make’ the Mahasammelan a success and the feeble opposition which could be gathered to all those hate speeches and gameplans of the majoritarian forces, the prospects for a ‘Gujarat’ like situation emerging in this part of the area cannot be ruled out.Not a single writeup critical to the whole jamboree was given space in any of the local editions of the different newspapers. It is worth noting that one such newspapers which is an extension of the business empire of a new tycoon, literally had four pages of its supplements brought out in saffron colour.
Of course the media which had bent over backwards to please Yogi could not be expected to tell the populace that Major General Bharat Keshar Singh, the International President of the Vishwa Hindu Mahasangh, has been closely associated with King Gyanendra. In fact he was badly thrashed by Nepalese people opposed to Monarchy during the tumultous days when Nepal was taking a turn to the better. All the major newspapers in Nepal had duly printed photographs of the incident then when his car had met with an accident because of rash driving and he had tried to misbehave with the victims themselves.
The local media was also not expected to expose how Goraksha Peethams landed estates in Nepal are also expected to come under scanner under the new dispensation. In a yet unconfirmed news it is also learnt that a squad of Maoists had duly visited the estates and demanded levy from them.
What is so significant about Yogi which has helped make him connoiseur of all eyes in the Hindutva brigade despite his formal defiance at times. It is clear that Yogi Adityanath who became the youngest legislator in the 12 th Lok Sabha at 26 ( 1998) and got reelected twice after that has helped change the situation in and around Gorakhpur in a qualitative manner. It is the unique nature of his intervention which has on the one hand tried to carve out alliances cutting across castes lines thru’ raising their economic demands and on the other hand emerging as a ‘Hindutva Robinhood’ who only could redeem the Hindus of their sufferings has made it possible for him to widen base.In this process he has been greatly helped by his long association with the Goraksha Peetham.
A key feature of the Hindutva experiment furthered by Yogi is to always keep Muslims in focus and win over the dalits and backwards to his side. In order to organise the Dalits against the Muslims he has made it a policy to interfere in all small or big quarrels between them and endeavour to paint it in communal black. There are no two opinions that Yogi has succeeded in instigating anti-Muslim feelings from Gorakhpur, Deoria, Siddharthnagar to Baharaich . The geographical layout of Gorakhpur has also helped him in this. At one end it abuts on Ayodhya and on the other on Nepal. Like the RSS the bogey of ISI training camps on Indo-Nepal border is also raised by Yogi. Every day there is a plethora of propaganda in papers about increase in the ISI activities through the madarsas on the Indo-Nepal border ‘or again ‘The clandestine relations between the ISI-Maoist .Needless to say all based on figments of their feverish imagination.
October 2005 witnessed a communal flareup in Mau based in Eastern UP on the eve of the Durga Pooja celebrations. It saw killing of nine innocents apart from the hundreds of wounded people.While the rest of the world came to know of the controversial role played by the local MLA Mukhtar Ansari during the riots or the lethargy exhibited by the law and order machinery while controlling the situation, the aggressive role played by Yogi Adityanath was not much talked about.
In their report on the Mau situation after the riots, ‘Saajhi Duniya’ a group of intellectual and social activists rightly noted (www.sabrang.com) this fact :.
” Whatever is happening in Purvanchal is occasionally discussed but there is no serious initiative to analyse the same. For last one decade the aggressive activities of heir of Goraksha Peeth and BJP MP Yogi Adityanath to organize Hindus was clearly reflected in the riot in Mau. During the last decade the Yogi has made this entire area, specially the area known as Gorakhpur during the times of Britishers, his laboratory. …
The maximum influence of the Yogi is in the 7 districts of Gorakhpur Division (Gorakhpur, Deoria, Kushinagar, Mahrajganj) and Basti Division (Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Siddharthanagar). Now he is spreading his wings in Azamgarh Division. Mau is a part of this division.
It is really surprising that the ‘Yogi Phenomenon’ which represents a significant addition to the Hindutva arsenal and which has helped further its hate agenda in a ‘creative’ manner has not received the proper attention it deserves.
It has been widely reported how Narendra Modi was the star attraction in the National Executive Meeting of BJP. The applause he received surpassed even the reaction to Party President Rajnath Singh’s arrival. One does not know whether Modi knows or not that a serious competitor to his ‘throne’ is slowly emerging in the Parivar itself – a competitor who wants to imitate him in making his zone of influence the second citadel of Hindutva.