Party tensions

Denied permission to speak, Adityanath leaves BJP executive meet midway

Hardline MP skips Narendra Modi's concluding address.

Signs of unrest in Uttar Pradesh unit of Bharatiya Janata Party became apparent when Yogi Adityanath, the hardline Hindutva MP from Gorakhpur, left the party’s national executive meeting in New Delhi midway, boycotting its deliberations on the concluding day on Saturday.

This followed the BJP leadership’s decision to turn down Adityanath’s request to address the gathering.

According to highly placed officials, the fire-brand BJP leader, who attended the first day of the national executive meet on Friday, was so enraged by the party leadership’s decision that he boycotted Saturday’s deliberations, which were to end with a speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The two-day meet was attended by present and former party presidents, the chief ministers of all the BJP-ruled states and delegates from across the country.

“On Saturday, Yogi Adityanath did not attend the meeting in Delhi,” Sunil Singh, the Uttar Pradesh president of Adityanath’s Hindu Yuva Vahini, told Scroll.in. “Around 12 o’clock he left for the airport to catch the Lucknow-bound plane which took off at 2 pm. He reached Lucknow around 3 o’clock.”

The Hindu Yuva Vahini is Adityanath’s personal organisation through which he has attempted to gain political control of Gorakhpur and the neighbouring districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh, independent of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its affiliate, the BJP. Though the Hindu Yuva Vahini claims to be a cultural organisation, its primary motivation – like that of the RSS – is political.

In a sulk

The ambitious Thakur leader, who until recently was attempting to have himself projected as the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate in Uttar Pradesh, has been sulking for quite some time. Not only did he fail to elict any concrete assurances from the BJP brass about a leadership role in the state, he was also unable to secure a ministerial berth for himself in Modi’s cabinet.

His name did not even figure in the BJP’s 27-member election committee for UP announced about 10 days ago by party’s state president Keshav Prasad Maurya. Significantly, the committee includes Shiv Pratap Shukla and Ramapatiram Tripathi, two Brahmin leaders from Gorakhpur who are considered potential threats to Adityanath’s influence in the region.

People close to Adityanath claim that the incident will hurt the BJP. They say that the Gorakhpur MP and his Hindu Yuva Vahini wield so much influence in eastern UP that they could play spoiler for the BJP in a several seats in the region – if not placated in time.

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The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.