The Gorakhpur district administration knew Yogi Adityanath, the firebrand BJP MP from Gorakhpur, had a support base. It did not, however, know that it will turn out to be this big, causing communal trouble in small towns and villages in the seven districts of Gorakhpur and Basti divisions. AndYogi seemed to have meticulously worked in this direction over the years.
Adityanath, who was nicknamed ‘chote mahanth’ after head of Gorakhnath Temple Trust Mahanth Avaidyanth declared him his successor, took the plunge into politics in 1998, contesting the Lok Sabha election successfully on a BJP ticket.
By 1999 Lok Sabha election, the distance between Yogi and BJP leadership started growing and he decided to create his own force of ardent followers. He targeted the unemployed youths, bringing them together under the banner of Hindu Yuva Vahini.
The HYV members turned into a strong cadre championing the hardline Hindutva agenda of Yogi. Slowly many branches of the HYV were set up in all the seven districts of Gorakhpur and Basti divisions. The creation of such a loyal organization paid dividend and Yogi won the 2004 Lok Sabha election with a thumping margin of 1.50 lakh votes even when the BJP was handed its worst debacle since the Ram Janmbhoomi movement.
The branches of HYV has been set up in majority of the villages in Gorakhpur and neighbouring districts. Be it the villages located on busy national highways passing through the district or remote village located in Sohagibarwa forest, the members of HYV are everywhere. Go to any village, a signboard put up by the members of HYV will always be there.
The HYV, which is allegedly involved in many current violent incidents in the two divisions, has evolved into a militant body over the years, taking law in its hand on a number of occasions. “The members of HYV have adopted guerilla tactics. After carrying out arson and attack, they disappear from the spot before the arrival of the police force. It has become difficult to tame the HYV members, ” said a police officer.
The support of the traders, lawyers, teachers and student organizations had added to the strength of the HYV, quite capable of calling the shots together. The issue today is Yogi’s detention in jail on charges of disturbing peace and violating prohibitory orders. At the receiving end, like in most such cases, is the common man—facing the wrath of the HYV at home, on roads and in trains.