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~By Sujit Bhar

The image of UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath as a brash Hindutva propagandist and activist, with his dreaded Hindu Yuva Vahini unleashed on the face of the state, needs a little re-modelling. Not that his overarching presence within the BJP and the RSS has changed, but his outbursts have diminished and his comments are measured.

These point to his deep understanding of his current position and how he should manoeuvre his movements so that they do not fall foul of the public, the media or the Supreme Court, which is now monitoring the Babri Masjid demolition case hearings at the Lucknow CBI court.

The latest depiction of his changed behaviour was when he, soon after meeting the Lal Krishna Advanis, waiting to enter the CBI court, drove over to Ayodhya and paid his homage at the makeshift Ram Temple at the disputed site.

It was a small puja, but being the first CM of the state in 15 years to acknowledge the issue first hand, it was hugely symbolic. In the back of his mind, Yogi must have had the presence of former chief minister Kalyan Singh, who is at this point immune from the prosecution at the CBI court as Governor of Rajasthan, but will be back in the dock as soon as he loses his post.

Legally, Yogi did nothing wrong in going to pay his respects to Ram Lalla at the makeshift temple. If the temple’s existence is being tolerated by the court, its devotees would be, as well. This is simple logic. However, when it is the chief minister, things could have gone out of hand, at which point the law would have interpreted it otherwise.

In doing his puja, Yogi made his point, with aplomb. And in keeping absolutely quiet throughout the process, he also made sure that his move was not interpreted otherwise by the courts. He did not comment afterwards as well.

Similar was his meeting with Advani. It served many purposes. He acknowledged the primacy of elders in the party, a move that his RSS bosses will not disagree with and he also showed his general support for the cause of the Ram Temple.

The diplomacy that Yogi—one who has been a complete outsider to administration—has shown in this is commendable, from the point of view of putting the stamp of his style of functioning on the state.

The state’s law and order situation may have worsened several fold, with cow vigilantes and love-jihad activists ruling the roost, but in the midst of all the chaos, Yogi seems to be playing his cards well.

How far he can drive his agenda remains to be seen.

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