‘Jockeying for that position has possibly started at this time.’
IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi arrives at Andrews Air Base on a 3-day visit to the US, September 23, 2021. Photograph: ANI Photo
“We all know that the Ram Mandir is going to be inaugurated in December 2023 and it is not mere coincidence that general elections are due in (April) 2024,” Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, author of The RSS: Icons of the Indian Right and Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times, tells Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com in the concluding part of a riveting interview.
In Aligarh, Mr Modi praised Yogi’s rule a lot in his speech.
There is no way Modi will be able to replace Yogi Adityanath before the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections in 2022.
We have to see whether the BJP announces Yogi Adityanath as its CM candidate before the assembly elections of 2022 or say we will take a decision after the elections.
There is a lot more coming out in the next few months. We have to wait and watch.
From now onwards till the end of December 2023, a lot is going to happen.
We all know that the Ram Mandir is going to be inaugurated in December 2023 and it is not mere coincidence that general elections are due in (April) 2024.
But before that a lot of developments will take place for which Modi has undertaken a series of manoeuvres.
It is very difficult to predict, as a lot of things can happen.
It is also possible that Modi may decide not to make Uttar Pradesh elections a very important one.
He can club the UP elections together with Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly elections by advancing them.
In this scenario if the BJP wins big time in UP, then kudos does not go to anyone except Modi because he becomes the overarching national figure in all the elections and not some leader who is just concentrating only on one state election.
Does this make Yogi the real number 2 in the BJP or is Amit Shah still number 2?
Amit Shah continues to be number 2.
What we are seeing is an indication, very early indication, of a possible challenge by Yogi to Modi.
Whether Yogi plays his cards properly or not remains to be seen, and whether Modi is able to counter that, I do not know now.
What I can see is that over the past 18 months Yogi Adityanath has definitely given indications that he has greater ambitions than just being chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.
If not Modi, then who? This is what his supporters say all the time.
All that is happening now will eventually answer that question.
Eventually, Modi will retire and I don’t know whether he will do that when he is 75 years old in 2025 or if it will happen later. I really don’t know.
But a time will come when someone will have to step into his shoes.
Whether the BJP is inside or outside, who that person will be, I don’t know at this stage.
Definitely, jockeying for that position has possibly started at this time.