The Monk Who Became Chief Minister by Shantanu Gupta: BLOOMSBURY Rs 399
The Monk Who Transformed Uttar Pradesh by Shantanu Gupta: GARUDA BOOKS Rs 349
We Indians have a habit of ignoring the greatest qualities seen in men and women even as we go after anything that is glittering. Despite 75 years of living independently, we are yet to learn the technique of separating the wheat from the chaff. This has resulted in the country losing the services of some of the best brains who could have led us to the number one position in the comity of nations.
In post-independent India, there were many scholars who could have led us through the trials and tribulations which we faced since 1947 and made us the numero uno in all fields. It was sure that India would have become the El Dorado for the rest of the world. To name a few, we had personalities like C P Ramaswamy Aiyer, the former Diwan of Travancore who served as the executive council member of the viceroy, Dr K L Rao, an intellectual giant who was a union minister for irrigation and power in the council of ministers headed by Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Sastri and Indira Gandhi (both Aiyer and Rao were for inter-linking the major rivers in the country so that there would never be any floods or drought anywhere in India), legal luminaries like Nani Palkhivala, M C Chagla, M Hidayatullah, and the great JRD Tata whose prowess as an industrialist was accepted all over the world except in India!.
Who can forget the great Gopalswami Doraiswami Naidu (GD Naidu, for short), described as the Edison of India who foresaw the potential and scope of a great Indian middle class and who approached the Indian government way back in the early 1950s to build an indigenous car priced less than Rs 5,000! Not only cars, Naidu proposed to manufacture high-quality cameras, tape recorders, music systems, big automobiles, power plants and what not. But the political leadership of those days who was obsessed with the outdated socialist system of economy failed to understand the abilities and qualities of people like Naidu. If you have any doubts about what is written here, please make a trip to Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu and visit the G D Naidu Museum to see and believe for yourself.
Then there were veteran Congress leaders like K Kamaraj, C Rajagopalachari, NKP Salve, Vasanth Sathe, Sidharth Shankar Ray, S Nijalingappa, Biju Patnaik and the likes who were visionaries. Salve and Sathe always wanted the socialist system to be junked and the economy to be liberated. But there were certain elements in the capital city’s corridors of power who never wanted India to grow. Some of them had themselves created a halo of intellectualism around them and managed to get into the kitchen cabinet of the uneducated political leadership who fell victims to the whims and fancies pontificated by the former.
Time proved that the self-styled intellectuals were mere wheeler-dealers and power brokers. In modern times, we have persons who claim that they are the most intelligent politicians who took birth only to rule India. While Lok Manya Bal Gangadhar Tilak claimed that freedom was his birth-right and he would fight for it, these “intelligent persons” claim they alone have the divine right to decide the fate of the nation though they fail to get elected as representatives of the people. Arrogance is their hallmark and ignorance is their USP. And they wear the ignorance in the form of white veshtis and full-sleeve shirts!
These were the thoughts that passed through the mind after reading the books “The Monk Who Became Chief Minister” (Bloomsbury) and “The Monk Who Transformed Uttar Pradesh” (Garuda Prakashan) both authored by Shantanu Gupta, the young veteran scribe and commentator. As the names indicate, the books are on Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. Interestingly, this is the first time comprehensive works on a reigning chief minister of a State is published. The first opinion about these works is that both the publishers should have good copy editors, the gate-keepers of the publishing industry. Though both the works are confined to 132 and 214 pages, respectively, there are unconscionable errors which could have been avoided had there been an efficient copy editor. .
Shantanu Gupta has packed both the books with information and data which are powerful enough to knock out the rivals of Yogi Adityanath in any bouts. Till 2017, the name Yogi Adityanath was confined only within Uttar Pradesh, thanks to the aversion of the ‘liberal’ media to write/air details about him. People south of the Vindhyas heard about Yogi only after the 2017 assembly elections in which the Hindutwa party scored an impressive majority and he was picked as the chief minister of the State. There was all-round cynicism against this 44-year-old saffron-clad monk becoming the chief minister though he was democratically elected like any other political leaders. The sad part of the development was that most of the people who lambasted him or expressed their ire over him becoming the chief minister of UP were ignorant of his track record.
The foreword of the book “The Monk Who Transformed UP” has been penned by T V Mohandas Pai, entrepreneur par excellence and a widely respected commentator on social and political issues. Pai has executed a lightning shot (if one is to use the cricket jargon) in the opening pages itself by explaining why Yogi Adityanath was the apt person for the top job of a State which has a population of 22 crore. Perhaps details like Yogi Adityanath was a five-time member of the Lok Sabha and was heading a Muth which administers more than 40 educational, medical and social institutions with over 80,000 students is a new revelation to many (including this writer). “Yogi Adityanath, chief minister of UP, India’s largest and most complex State has transformed UP in the last 4.5 years,” Mohandas Pai concludes his foreword. From then onwards Shantanu Gupta takes over and exhilarates the reader with power packed information. Gupta’s disclosures, takes the reader through the life and times of Yogi Adityanath with élan. The author scrutinises and audits the performance of Yogi and gives startling disclosures and comparisons of the protagonist with other young lawmakers in Indian parliament.
While he was a member of the 16th Lok Sabha which he served during 2014 to 2017, Yogi participated in 57 debates against the national average of 50.6, asked 306 questions against the national average of 199 and presented three private member Bills against the national average of 1.5. During the same period, the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi clan asked zero questions, presented zero private member Bills and participated in just 11 debates, writes Gupta.
I too tried to find out the track record of some MPs from Kerala who were making headlines in the State. Other than getting suspended from the House for creating ruckus, they have not done anything as lawmakers. Shantanu writes: “Akhilesh Yadav, ex-chief minister of UP , who is a parliamentarian now also has a very dismal record in parliament. In the period 2019-21, with 36 per cent attendance and zero questions asked Akhilesh Yadav remained the worst performing MP from UP in the 17th Lok Sabha.”
For the first time in Indian publishing history, an author has provided the readers with details of references which he collated and collected from official sources to substantiate his disclosures. Nothing surprising in Yogi Adityanath approaching the electorate in 2022 with a progress report wetted by the likes of Mohandas Pai.
Both the books are eye-openers to the common man who has failed to ask the powers that be why the country in general and Uttar Pradesh in particular remained a BIMARU State despite leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati occupying the top post. The answer may not be melodious to the layman who is accustomed only to the demands by these leaders to tighten his/her loincloth today for a better tomorrow. Shantanu Gupta says that the Monk in saffron has made a big impact in the State and he has reasons to be happy. When Akhilesh Yadav became chief minister in 2012, there were lot of expectations as he was young and the general impression was he would be full of ideas. But by the end of his tenure, the State went from bad to worse. The reign of papa Yadav too was no different. Mulayam Yadav had the support of Amar Singh and the junior Ambani (Anil) and had promised to convert UP into a developed society. Amitab Bachchan was the brand ambassador of the State and there were blitzkriegs in the media about the development initiatives, which remained only on paper.
Yogi stands heads and shoulders above his predecessors and Shantanu, like a seasoned lawyer has listed the former’s achievements over the last 54 months. It is commendable. Surprised by the performance record of Yogi Adityanath as a member of parliament, I tried to find out the track record of some of the members from South India only to get disappointed. These youngsters stole the limelight by shouting and snatching Bills from the hands of the ministers and throwing the same on the faces of the presiding officers. One of the lawmakers was seen in a fully inebriated condition in a West Asian hotel bar. These youngsters may have to work overtime to clear their names from the controversies. Shantanu undertook trips to various corners of Uttar Pradesh, the Goraknath Mutt as well as the ancestral home of Yogi so that he could get a first-person account as well as the facts about the life of Yogi before he became the chief minister. There is a saying that Lady Luck will smile only on persons who deserve to be smiled. Yogi Adityanath belongs to the class of people who deserve the smile from Lady Luck and his elevation to the top post of the State is a reiteration of the age old rule that there is no alternative for hard work.
The Monk who Became Chief Minister has foreword by Dr David Frawley. He states that Yogi represents India’s new aspirational generation that aims to develop the country without abandoning its profound civilisational ethos”. The books stand out for the simple reason that they feature the hitherto unpublished information about Yogi’s achievements which the mainstream media chose to ignore. The Lefts consider Yogi Aditynath as untenable and anti-people. But as usual, the Lefts themselves prove that they are not Right.
One may like or hate Yogi Adityanath. But both these books belong to the ‘must read’ category because one cannot ignore Yogi.