Of the 21 people who become the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath is only the third to complete the full term in office and the first one from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). If his party manages to retain power on March 10, 2022, when results of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections are declared, Yogi will also become the first non-Congress chief minister to win a second successive mandate from voters.
The 49-year-old firebrand leader took over as the Uttar Pradesh CM on March 19, 2017, following his party’s massive sweep in the Assembly election and now joins his immediate predecessors – Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati to last the full term of five years.
The state, electorally India’s largest both in terms of Assembly seats and Lok Sabha constituencies, had never seen a chief minister complete his or her term in office before 2007 when Mayawati took over for the fourth time.
Once a Congress bastion, Uttar Pradesh slipped out of the party’s grasp after the 1989 elections. The party suffered a disastrous defeat as Janata Dal, led by Vishwanath Pratap Singh, came out on top as the single largest party. The state saw Janata Dal leader Mulayam Singh Yadav forming a government with outside help from the BJP.
The state was in the midst of a major political upheaval led by the Mandal-Kamandal (a euphemism for OBC politics and Ram Janmabhoomi movement) brand of politics which was redefining the way electoral battles would be fought across North Indian in the coming years.
The period saw the rapid decline of Congress and the rise of the BJP along with the emergence of Janata Dal and its state-centric avatar the Samajwadi Party as well as the BSP.
Fuelled by the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and the fragmentation in the Congress vote bank, the early 1990s saw BJP on a rapid growth path. Kalyan Singh, a strong proponent of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, became the first BJP leader and the 16th overall to take over the UP CM in June 1991.
But just after a year and half in office, his government faced the wrath of the then Congress-led Central government after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya and President’s Rule was imposed in the state.
Singh was back in office almost five years later with the help of Mayawati’s BSP. Yet, this time too he was the CM for just 2 years and 52 days from September 21, 1997, to November 12, 1999.
The BJP then elected Ram Prakash Gupta as Singh’s replacement but he, too, was in office for just about a year before Rajnath Singh, the present Defence Minister, took over the reins of the state.
March 7, 2002, was the date when Rajnath Singh demitted the office of the UP CM which was followed by a 15-year long hiatus for the BJP from the power corridors of the state.
Name From To Duration Kalyan Singh June 24, 1991 December 6, 1992 1 Year, 165 Days Kalyan Singh September 21, 1997 November 12, 1999 2 Years, 52 Days Ram Prakash Gupta November 12, 1999 October 28, 2000 351 Days Rajnath Singh October 28, 2000 March 7, 2002 1 Year, 131 Days Yogi Adityanath March 19, 2017 Incumbent 4 Years, 298 Days* *As on January 11, 2022
But the wheels of fortune slowly turned in favour of the BJP when the Narendra Modi wave swept India during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Uttar Pradesh was the fulcrum of BJP’s superlative show that gave the country its first majority government since 1984.
The 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections saw the BJP cementing the gains of 2014. This was followed by the 2019 Lok Sabha polls which showed that the saffron party was now the undisputed champion of the electoral battles in the state.
While the party has seen four of its leaders occupy the chief minister’s chair, it is only Yogi Adityanath who has the distinction of lasting the full term.