THE MONK WHO BECAME CHIEF MINISTER
By Shantanu Gupta
I just finished reading the above book on UP’s, 21st Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath. The author refers to him as, ‘a man on a mission.’ I took the book to hand with a specific objective in mind. Where, I was not looking for any literary jewels, in it. But then, yes. I definitely wanted to understand. How, in this devious, fierce and cut-throat world of ours, a distinct ‘no-one’ becomes an illustrious ‘someone.’ What arsenal of characteristics; first as a child, then as a student and then as an adult did he possess to rise, up to such great heights. The answers to which were not very underlined. And it can’t be. But then you need to catch hold of, the latent hints, insights and even inferences provided by the author to ascertain the whys and wherefores. Where, for a moment let us keep the element of ‘destiny’ aside.
Author has reinforced the title of the book by adding a sub-title, ‘The Definitive Biography of Yogi Adityanath’ as an inviting teaser on the cover page. He deals with the subdued, non flamboyant and traction less childhood of the protagonist in the last chapter. Which, I would have loved to read first.
The book can be divided into five major areas if we go by the chronology of the protagonist:
- Ajay Bisht’s childhood and how he became Yogi Adityanath
- His life in the Gorakhdham Mutt
- His arrival and evolution as a politician
- Misconceptions about him as a Hindu hardliner
- His chapter as the Chief Minister
In the sleek book the author has but concisely described Ajay Bisht’s childhood. He hails from a low middle class background. In all they are seven siblings, three sisters and four brothers. Where, he happens to be at number five after three elder sisters and one elder brother. His father was a ranger in the forest department of Uttara Khand Government. Since childhood, Ajay was an avid reader of newspaper, so says his father and that meant. He was always aware of what was happening in the world. His educational life was spent in the hilly regions of Kumaon that now falls under Uttarakhand. He was always a subdued but a thinking child. Who loved nature, environment and even animals as can be seen, in the pictures filed in the book, and above all, a cow lover. In November 1993, Ajay left his village, his parents, his friends, and his studies and without disclosing much to anyone in the family, he left for Gorakhpur. And on 15 February 1994, on the auspicious occasion of ‘Basant Panchami’ he was anointed as a Nath Panth Yogi by his guru and Chief Mahant (priest) Avaidyanath.
The book concisely describes his journey from college life where he was pursuing MSc in Maths to Gorakhdham Mutt and thereon, to the coliseum of politics. In detail it even describes his activities as a mahant and even when he takes over as head mahant. Where, he operated as man for the welfare of the needy. In fact he was the person who broke the bastion of the mighty gangs of the poorvanchal led by people like Harishanker Tiwari and Virendra Pratap Shahi. He happens to be a workaholic and clocks some 18-20 hours in a day.
The book juggles between his ascetic, as well as his political journey quite sharply. He happens to be a Hindu hardliner but only for a Muslim hardliner. Otherwise he doesn’t harbor any first breath animosity with anyone. Even in Gorakhdham mutt his main contractor is a Muslim by the name of Ansari who can enter the temple any time even when Hindus cannot enter Mecca or Madina. When, Indian Muslims go for Haj. Their passports bear them out as Hindus—the point he makes.
The book throws up certain insights which are not known to the masses. It even connects you to a number of reports and names of several journalists who have a pathological hatred for him. His speeches about minorities have been covered in detail. The narration is full of press release links, quotes of journalists. Including TV shows such as ‘Ap ki Adalat and AajTak.
Most certainly one cannot determine whether a book can make or break a person’s image. But certainly it can change your opinion. It’s a good read if you want to know the person inside the sheath.
By Kamlesh Tripathi
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