The new biography on the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister ‘The Monk Who Became Chief Minister’, is hitting the stands this week.
The saffron robed monk-Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath could well have turned Left, politically, instead of Right, but for one long conversation with a senior in PG Government College , Kotdwar in 1991.
According to a new biography on Yogi Adityanath hitting the stands this week, The Monk Who Became Chief Minister written by Shantanu Gupta and published by Bloomsbury Publishing, the five term Lok Sabha MP was on the verge of joining the Students Federation of India, the student wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) before he was persuaded to by his senior in college, Pramod Rawat to join the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).
The book reveals that Mr. Adityanath, then plain Ajay Bisht, was interested in student politics and his sister’s brother-in –law, Jai Prakash was a member of the SFI in his college, and influenced him to a certain extent to consider joining the organisation. “It was a long conversation with Pramod Rawat, also known as ‘Tunna’ in the library of the college that persuaded him to join the ABVP instead,” said Mr Gupta. As a member of the ABVP, Yogi Adityanath came into contact with Mahant Avaidyanath during the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, impressing the latter enough to become his disciple and successor as head of the Nath Sampradaya of the Gorakhnath Peeth in Gorakhpur and the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha constituency.
The long association with the student wing of the RSS, however, also gives an early clue to Mr. Adityanath’s rather maverick career in the BJP, where he has not always been in sync with the party on issues. In 1992, Mr. Adityanath, wanted to contest the student body elections for the post of secretary in his college, but was denied the ticket as it had been promised to another student. Mr. Adityanath fought as an independent rebel candidate, losing elections for the first and last time in his career.
The book is full of other interesting vignettes about the monk-politician including the fact that in November 1993, he left his village in Uttarakhand without a word to his family or friends to join the Gorakhnath Peeth as a monk. His parents managed to locate him in late 1994 when they saw a story in a local newspaper about the successor to Mahant Avaidyanath. Reaching Gorakhpur soon after, both his father Anand Singh Bisht and mother Savita Devi were upset to see him in the garb of a sanyasi or monk. Only after persuasion by Mahant Avaidyanath were they reconciled to this new role for their son. Two months after that meeting, Mr. Adityanath travelled to his village for the customary bhiksha or alms from his mother, a tradition for sanyasis set by Adi Shankaracharya. Both his parents now refer to him as Maharajji, rather than the name they gave him as a child.
Mr. Adityanath has been a five-term MP from Gorakhpur but much is not known about his early life or political and social influences. Though always outspoken, Mr. Adityanath’s profile did not make him an easy fit in the drawing rooms of Lutyen’s Delhi. His rise to prominence has raised curiosity about him, which this book may go some way in fulfilling.
# www.himalayauk.org (Digital Newsportal)