One of Yogi Adityanath's ministers and allies has sought to explain the BJP's recent by-election defeats by drawing a parallel between Ram and the party brass that will not please the senior partner.
The BJP lost in Gorakhpur and Phulpur because it had ignored the poor voters after its past victories just the way Ram had forgotten his monkey army after conquering Lanka, the Backward Class Welfare Minister, Om Prakash Rajbhar, told a rally.
The Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party leader went on to virtually rebel against his ally, appealing to the poor to never again vote for 'rich parties' and naming the BJP along with the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress.
'The governments in Delhi and Lucknow ignored the poor who had voted for them, just like Ram forgot the poor monkeys that had fought for him,' Rajbhar, whose non-Yadav OBC voters won his party four Assembly seats last year, said in Basti, 75km east of Ayodhya.
'The god (Ram) flew back to Ayodhya on the Pushpak viman (aircraft), leaving behind the monkeys... the way the leaders you voted to power flew to Delhi and Lucknow to rule over you.' He added: 'Ram or his brother Lakshman didn't move a single stone to build the Ram Setu that took him to Lanka. The monkey army built it but was left in the lurch.'
Till late evening, there wasn't a peep out of the BJP. Rajbhar has in the past too publicly accused the state government of being non-functioning and threatened to resign, but his proximity to BJP president, Amit Shah, has forced Yogi Adityanath to swallow the barbs.
On Sunday, however, Rajbhar went farther and accused the government of corruption and Yogi Adityanath of indifference to the poor. 'Whenever I tried to talk to the Chief Minister about this, all he said was he would 'see to it'.... Now the people have made him 'see' in the elections,' a beaming Rajbhar said amid cheers.
He alleged that corruption had reached its peak under the Adityanath government. 'The government gives money to build toilets and houses for the poor but you are forced to pay bribes of Rs .2,000 to Rs. 20,000 to get these benefits,' he said. 'The chief minister doesn't listen to me when I complain."
Yogi Adityanath, asked at a media interaction in Lucknow whether he had spoken to Narendra Modi and Amit Shah after the by-election defeats, replied: 'Yes, I did.' The Yogi, who completes a year in office, wouldn’t reveal more, saying: 'Family matters cannot be shared in public' When a reporter quipped that the entire state was his family, he smiled and said: 'Don’t forget that there are neighbours too.'