Delhi buzz: Is Modi undermining Yogi?

The buzz on Yogi Adityanath’s dwindling fortunes to Dharmendra Pradhan’s towering hopes to Arun Shourie’s bitterness

Photo by Ashok Dutta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Ashok Dutta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images


The buzz soon after the Uttar Pradesh poll results was that PM Narendra Modi wanted Minister of State for Communications Manoj Sinha to be the Chief Minister, but the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) vetoed it with Yogi Adityanath’s name. Modi, apparently, had been uneasy about Yogi even earlier. Yogi, who has a strong base in eastern UP, hasn’t been dependent on Modi or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to win elections; instead, the BJP was dependent on him. The new CM soon being portrayed informally as the “PM candidate for 2024” didn’t help things further. Yogi, in a short span, was being construed as a potential challenger.

Worse, though Yogi was earlier dismissed as a fringe element in the mainstream media, he quickly grabbed headlines for making many announcements even before the first Cabinet meet—from inspecting police stations to meeting Muslim women affected by triple talaq. However, the recent caste clashes have been a setback with bad press for the CM on the issue of law and order. A BJP insider says the ‘Modi camp’ is said to have fanned a sustained media campaign against Yogi, worried over his surging popularity. He points out that the TV channels majorly highlighting the issue are the ones whose promoters are considered to be close to the PM.

Meanwhile, Yogi has been frequently visiting his constituency Gorakhpur and the Gorakhnath temple, of which he is the head priest. Is he trying to find some peace there or just charting his new strategy?

Dharmendra Pradhan’s acche din

Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has had a lucky spell so far. Some things beyond his control—such as the low crude oil price in the international market—has kept his stint smooth as there was no upheaval on domestic prices. Now, things might even get better if his lucky streak continues.

Pradhan is eyeing to become the BJP’s first chief minister of Odisha and the Modi-Shah combine is said to be backing him. Buoyed by the recent local polls where the BJP made an impressive impact, the party is hoping to capture the state in the next Assembly polls.

However, Pradhan will have to surge ahead of other CM contenders. While former Union Coal Minister Dilip Ray is said to be out of the race after getting entangled in the coal scam, senior leader Giridhar Gamang, a former chief minister, who left the Congress to join the BJP in 2015, is a formidable contender. Interestingly, Gamang is best known for his controversial vote that felled the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government in 1999.

But, there’s speculation on BJP wooing senior Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leaders such as Jay Panda and him being offered the CM chair. Pradhan can only keep his fingers crossed that it is not the case.

Correction & Clarification:

This political gossip column had carried a piece with the headline 'Shourie's increasing bitterness towards Modi’. We are deleting the piece following a strong denial by Mr Arun Shourie, We regret the inconvenience caused to Mr Shourie.

His rejoinder is published below:

Dear Sir, Your paper has put out an absolutely fabricated piece about me, my "growing frustration" and some senior minister. Every little bit in it is an absolute falsehood. No minister has visited me. No minister has in any way asked me why I am critical of the Government or the Prime Minister. So, I cannot imagine how any occasion would arise for the PM to pull anyone up.

Please do not let your newly revived paper become yet another medium for purveying social-media type fabrications. After all, it was founded by Panditji: Arun Shourie

(The column was republished at 14:19 hours on May 15, 2017 after deleting the post)

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Published: 14 May 2017, 8:30 PM