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Seers, BJP workers, welfare beneficiaries on long guest list for Yogi’s ‘grand’ oath ceremony

Yogi Adityanath will be sworn in as UP CM for the 2nd time at Lucknow’s 75,000-capacity Ekana Stadium Friday. With eye on 2024, BJP plans to make it a spectacle.

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Lucknow: With an eye on the 2024 general elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is set to turn the swearing-in ceremony of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister-designate Yogi Adityanath into a gala event Friday. The party has invited seers and saints, as well as booth-level workers, migrants and welfare schemes’ beneficiaries, to attend alongside Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the top BJP leadership.

The event will be held at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow, which has a capacity of around 75,000.

Apart from the wide-ranging invitees, BJP’s district in-charges have also been asked to ensure that hoardings and decorations are put up in markets and at major intersections across each district in preparation for the spectacle, according to BJP leaders. Moreover, they have also been instructed to hold cleanliness drives in temples in each district followed by pooja (prayers) before arriving at the swearing-in, the leaders said.

In a letter to the heads of different regional units, UP BJP general secretary Govind Narayan Shukla directed that two party workers from each unit be sent to Lucknow on 24 March and the workers should arrive in vehicles bearing party flags. ThePrint has accessed the letter.

It also directed workers to ensure that pooja happens at local temples for public welfare between 8-10 am on the day of oath-taking, and seers of mutts-temples, spiritual heads, engineers, doctors, professionals, writers and social workers at district level be invited as well.

ThePrint has learnt that apart from booth-level workers, seers from across the temple cities of Mathura-Vrindavan, Ayodhya and Haridwar, and yoga guru Baba Ramdev have also been invited for the ceremony.

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‘Bhavya’ event on the cards

Speaking to ThePrint, BJP’s Shukla said the event is going to be “grand”.

“It is a historic event for us and all supporters across the state are excited about it. Hence, it is natural that it will be bhavya (grand). It is a moment of honour for us and workers at booth level have been asked to ensure that pooja is conducted by each unit in every district across the state as we will take blessings of the almighty that day after cleanliness drives. Prasad distribution will follow,” he said.

According to experts, since Yogi Adityanath has emerged as a symbol of Hindutva, it is natural that the oath-taking would witness the presence of seers.

Lucknow-based political analyst Brajesh Shukla said two songs had especially become popular during the assembly elections — “jo Ram ko laaye hain, hum unko laayein hain” (those who have brought Ram have been brought to power), and “aa rahe hain UP mein phir bhagwa dhari” (saffron-clad ones are returning to power).

“The songs would even be played in marriages and they clearly symbolised how Yogi had become a prateek-purush (symbolic) of bhagwa (saffron). Yogi himself is a monk and has stayed among them and visits Ayodhya every month. The swearing-in is also a message to the public ahead of the 2024 polls, which the BJP wants to win under PM Narendra Modi’s leadership,” said Brajesh Shukla.

He added that the invitation to workers and booth-level supporters was to buttress the importance that the BJP attaches to them.

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Beneficiaries, workers to be present

Speaking to ThePrint, BJP leaders confirmed that apart from booth-level workers, pravasi (non-resident) party workers deployed across districts, and beneficiaries of Modi and Yogi’s welfare schemes are also set to be in attendance at the ceremony. These pravasis are party workers who are usually sent to another district to oversee functioning, and are thus different to the set of migrant workers living in other states whom the party was focussing on in its election campaign.

Asked about the expected number of such supporters and beneficiaries, UP BJP state spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi said that while the capacity of Ekana Stadium is around 75,000, the beneficiaries will be part of the common public that has been invited to the ceremony.

The beneficiaries emerged as a major vote bank of the BJP in the 2022 assembly elections and the party wants to acknowledge their support with this gesture, party insiders told ThePrint.

SPG in Lucknow, DM holds meeting

With PM Modi set to arrive in Lucknow for the swearing-in ceremony, the district magistrate held a meeting with government and police officers Tuesday.

Additional Director General (law and order) Prashant Kumar told reporters that apart from the Special Protection Group (SPG) cover, Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) commandos will remain deployed at the venue and drones would be used to keep a vigil.

Separate entry and exit points will be made for the VVIPs and the common public, he added.

BJP says important opposition leaders to be invited

With reports that former CM and Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav has said he is yet to be invited for the swearing-in, BJP leaders said that all important Opposition leaders at national and state level will be invited.

BJP state spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi told ThePrint that apart from senior Opposition leaders including Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav, Priyanka Gandhi, opposition leaders at national level will also be invited.

At Yogi Adityanath’s previous swearing-in ceremony in 2017, the CMs of BJP-ruled states and those ruled by NDA allies like TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu were also present, apart from top BJP national and state-level leadership.

(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)

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