Army the same but leadership different, says Yogi Adityanath
From midair, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath waved at the crowd that had been waiting patiently to hear him for hours in the Hojai area of Assam.
The turnout was impressive. So were the chants for the BJP’s star campaigner, whose Gorakhnath Mutt has several followers in Assam too, where BJP formed its first government three years ago. ‘Jogiji (that’s how they pronounced Yogi) zindabad,” the person managing the stage began and the restless crowd, brimming with excitement, joined in with “zindabad zindabad.” The chants grew shriller when Yogi was introduced as Hindu hriday samrat (the darling of Hindus). For different reasons, Adityanath’s address also had a liberal mention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi. While Modi was hailed, the Congress chief was ridiculed though it didn’t make any difference to the crowd which applauded intermittently.
Do they understand Hindi here?
“Yes, they do. They have suffered so much in the past that they are now heaving a sigh of relief and Modi-Yogi are a hit here,” said UP minister Mahendra Singh who was the party’s Assam in-charge when it won a majority in the state three years ago and has again been sent to the state for the Lok Sabha elections.
Adityanath took off on his campaign in Assam and Bhubaneswar hours after replying to Election Commission on his ‘Modi ki sena’ remarks. The poll panel let him off with a mild censure to be careful in future.
This time, he took care not to mention ‘Modi ki sena’ even as he played up the issue differently; pointing out how under Modi the army had been proactive in countering terrorists – beginning with the strike against terrorists on the Myanmar border, the surgical strike I after the Uri attack followed by aerial strike in Balakot after the Pulwama terror attack.
“You saw how the army pushed back the Chinese in Doklam. This is the difference in leadership. The army is the same, but the leadership is different and the results are here for all to see,” he said as the crowd again went into the ‘zindabad-zindabad’ mode with applause.
“Under Modi we don’t feed biryani to terrorists, we feed them with bullets,” Yogi added for good measure while targeting the Congress for ‘being hand in glove’ with Maulana Badruddin Ajmal- led All India United Democratic Front (AIDUF).
“Badruddin ruined Assam and now the Congress has taken its support. Despite that it hasn’t found candidates,” Yogi said. The AIDUF-Congress understanding was played up by Yogi in an apparent bid to polarise the voters in favour of the BJP which holds seven of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s decision to contest also from Wayanad along with his traditional family bastion of Amethi figured prominently in Yogi’s attack.
“Rahul Gandhi fled to Wayanad as he is sure of losing Amethi. You would have seen his nomination and rally in Kerala where one neither saw the ‘panja’ (hand symbol of Congress) nor the Indian flag. All that one saw was the crescent moon and star flag of the Muslim League which was responsible for killing of thousands of people,” Yogi said.
The campaign in Bhubaneswar — he addressed two rallies on phone after his chopper couldn’t take off due to lack of time - didn’t change much. Only that here, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik also figured in his attack.
"Like Rahul, Naveen Babu, who is Odisha CM for decades, has fled from Hinjili and is contesting from Bijepur (too). Contesting from another seat shows his failure," he said, while addressing the people of Kandhamal on phone.