In the stadium and across UP, BJP show of force takes center stage | Latest India News
On March 19, 2017, Yogi Adityanath was sworn in as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh for the first time. The ceremony was significant, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had come to power after 12 years of absence.
The event took place in front of a small crowd at an assembly ground called Smriti Upvan. Standing next to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then Interior Minister Rajnath Singh, Adityanath smiled on stage, a bit unsure of himself. He had been declared chief minister a few days earlier.
Five years later on Friday, Adityanath was sworn in again and as he stepped onto the dais he was greeted by the roar of a crowd of 70,000 packed into the Atal Bihari Vajpayee cricket stadium. For the rest of the ceremony, he sat on the stage next to PM Modi, giant cutouts adorning each chevron. This time behind the duo were 16 Union Ministers and 11 Chief Ministers.
If 2017 brought new, budding signs of a man taking his first steps into the political spotlight, Friday’s event was a celebration of a now-established force; a leader and a party sure of both their present and their future.
The stadium showed evidence of preparations for the multi-day event. Strategically placed giant LED screens featured a rowdy saffron-wrapped crowd, many carrying a bulldozer – now synonymous with Adityanath and its “tough on crime” image – in one form or another; a cap, a toy, a cutout.
Many in the crowd had made their way from across the state. Parminder Singh, for example, had left Kanpur early in the morning, determined to get through the gates. “The only disappointment was that no one spoke. Great speeches were expected. Nevertheless, never before have I witnessed such a well-organized and graceful swearing-in ceremony,” he said as he walked out. .
Lucknow was also decorated. The 16km stretch from Chaudhary Charan Singh Airport to the stadium was lined with thousands of flowerpots, posters and cutouts. Prayer ceremonies were held in 32 temples.
At the Loreto crossroads near the VVIP guesthouse, Hukum Rana marveled at the pace at which the decorations sprouted. “Since yesterday, I wonder how the authorities worked so quickly. There is hope that they will also settle public grievances at this rate,” he said.
Across cities, towns and villages, the BJP has pulled out all the stops. Party workers handed out sweets and prayed in front of a bulldozer in Gorakhpur, Adityanath constituency and the headquarters of Gorakhnath Mutt, which he heads.
In Eastern UP, a special aarti was held at the Ganga Gate of the Kashi Vishwanath Dham in Varanas. Rajesh Shukla, Namami Gange Project Manager, said, “We prayed for the better future of the state under the leadership of Adityanath…”.
In Mathura, Vedic hymns were chanted in 228 “shakti kendras”. BJP District Chairman Madhu Sharma said it was done for an auspicious start. A few hours later, this debut was made with a show of force.