Inside BJP

Back to basics: With Adityanath in UP, the BJP has its eyes set on Gujarat, Karnataka and Himachal

As Congress implodes, the BJP is looking ahead to the next round of polls.

The appointment of the 44-year-old Gorakhpur Lok Sabha Member of Parliament Yogi Adityanath as the new Uttar Pradesh chief minister is a reaffirmation that the communal card blatantly pushed by the Bharatiya Janata Party in the recent Assembly polls will continue to be the centrepiece of its campaign for the 2019 Lok Sabha election and the new state government’s agenda.

Falling back on its hardcore Hindutva agenda in the recent Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, the BJP had especially deployed Yogi Adityanath as its star campaigner because his polarising and venom-spewing speeches had proved to be a sure crowd-puller.

While there is no doubt that the BJP owes its outstanding electoral performance in Uttar Pradesh to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s undiminished popularity, Adityanath’s contribution cannot be ignored either. He played no less a significant role in papering over caste divisions and consolidating the Hindu vote in favour of the BJP in these elections. It was payback time now and Adityanath has been more than adequately rewarded by the party.

In fact, the BJP president Amit Shah has always favoured Adityanath and was keen that he should be appointed president of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. However, since the BJP was consciously wooing the non-Yadav backward classes, it was compelled to appoint Keshav Prasad Maurya to this post. Though the BJP has always been wary of Adityanath because of his brash behavior and a tendency to chart an independent path, Shah was apparently convinced that the minority-bashing Gorakhpur MP would prove useful in the Uttar Pradesh elections. Shah also managed to get the backing of its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, despite the fact that it had strong reservations about Adityanath’s style of functioning.

Looking ahead

Now that the BJP has tasted success in the Hindi heartland state, the party is convinced that Adityanath’s brand of militant Hindutva is the way forward. To begin with, the BJP hopes the new chief minister’s appointment will help polarise the electorate in its favour in the next round of Assembly polls in Gujarat, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh.

Having set the tone first in its election poll campaign and in Lucknow on Saturday, it is clear that the BJP’s tried and tested Hindutva agenda will be its chief calling card in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. With the prime minister and the BJP president taking the lead in this direction, as was evident from their overtly communal speeches, the BJP is no longer afraid to advertise its intentions.

“Yogi Adityanath’s appointment only shows the emperor has no clothes. It is the logical conclusion of the prime minister’s kabristan-shamshan remark and Amit Shah’s reference to Kasab in their election speeches,” remarked Manoj Jha, spokesperson, Rashtriya Janata Dal.

In Lucknow, Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu and Yogi Adityanath were quick to stress on Saturday that the BJP state government in Uttar Pradesh will be guided by Modi’s dictum “sab ka saath, sab ka vikas (collective effort, inclusive growth). But the new chief minister’s persona belies such assurances. With Adityanath at the helm, the electorate will expect him to deliver on the election promise to construct a Ram Temple at Ayodhya, close down slaughter houses and constitute anti-Romeo squads and generally take other steps specifically targeted at the minorities.

Deft social engineering

Having indicated that it will persist with the politics of polarisation, the BJP has not overlooked a crucial fact that its deft social engineering – consolidation of the non-Yadav backward classes and the unstinted support of the upper castes – also played a key role in powering it to victory in the assembly polls.

Consequently, it took care to appoint Keshav Prasad Maurya and Lucknow mayor Dinesh Sharma as deputy chief ministers. Having appointed Yogi Adityanath, a Thakur, as chief minister, the BJP leadership felt it was necessary to accommodate a backward class leader (Maurya) and a Brahmin (Sharma) as a balancing act and also to reflect the rainbow social coalition it stitched together in the recent elections.

Putting together this team was obviously not an easy task as the BJP took a week to take these decisions. Having got an overwhelming mandate in the Assembly polls, there was a long list of chief ministerial hopefuls and there was a fear that the chief minister’s appointment could result in internal dissension.

But now that the party has a triumvirate in place, the power play and the equations among the three leaders will be under the scanner in the coming days. Will they succeed in establishing a harmonious working relationship or will it lead to a bitter tug-of-war as each leader attempts to forge ahead of the others? Having won the state handsomely, the BJP’s next big challenge is to see that the new government functions smoothly and delivers on its promises. But this could well prove to be a tough call.

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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

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”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.

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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.