Interview with Author Shantanu Gupta

Interview with Political Analyst and Author Shantanu Gupta

About the author:

Shantanu was born 7 February 1979 in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh and raised in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, where his father worked in PSU – Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Limited (IDPL). He did his schooling from Kendriya Vidyalaya and has an engineering degree from G. B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology. He did his Management education from XLRI, Jamshedpur and worked as a consultant for many years in India and abroad.

Shantanu Gupta is an Indian author and political analyst. He is also the communication advisor to Baba Ramdev and alumni ambassador of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex, (United Kingdom) in India. Shantanu's recent work as an author has been about Uttar Pradesh and its government. His book Uttar Pradesh - Vikas Ki Prateeksha Mein, published by Bloomsbury Publishing strengthened the narrative against the Akhilesh Yadav-led, Samajwadi Party government. His book, The Monk Who Became Chief Minister is the biography of current Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister - Yogi Adityanath.

About the book ‘The Monk Who Became Chief Minister’

The Monk Who Became Chief Minister is a biography of Yogi Adityanath, the 21st Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.  First definitive biography of a monk who has become the chief minister of the most populous state of India. It captures the journey of a shy and introvert boy from the hills of Uttarakhand who has now become a man of consensus. On 19 March 2017, Yogi Adityanath took an oath as the twenty first Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. The book takes you through the journey of a shy and introvert boy from the hills of Uttarakhand, who had a modern education in the faculties of science from Kotdwar, later took sanyas and went through rigorous training in vedic education. From being a rebel politician inside and outside the party, he now has become a man of consensus. This book explores how a nathpanthi monk, learnt the nuances of politics from his guru, Mahant Awaidnath, and rose to take the highest position in Uttar Pradesh’s politics.

Q1. Tell us something about the research part for your latest book on Yogi Adityanath, the current Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh?

- Yogi Adityanath become the 21st Chief minister of Uttar Pradesh on 19th March and I started my work on his biography on 24th. Praveen Tiwari who is my publisher, another hindi writer Sandeep Deo and I, were in Uttarakhand on 24th March for research. We stayed there for 15 days. Interestingly, Yogi Adityanath has studied in as many as 7 schools. So, we had to be at all those places, we talked to concerned people, take down notes. It was a hectic thing but we enjoyed nonetheless. We took notes, collected audios and video records. We then started the writing part. My wrists still throb because of the continuous work that I did. Writing 3000-5000 works for 2 months straight was very challenging but I wanted to be the first biographer of Yogi and that was one thing that kept me going. And as the cliche goes, once you start working towards a goal with all your heart and soul, the universe conspires to make it happen.

Q2. What made you write a book on Yogi Adityanath ji?

I have always found Yogi a very inspiring figure. He has been one of the youngest parliamentarians ever. He has won from Gorakhpur for 5 terms straight so there had to be something very charismatic about him. And he has such a rigorous lifestyle. No contemporary politician can even come close to the kind of life he leads. Then Yogi stood as the epitome of Political Incorrectness when Media fries you for the slightest slips of tongue. His rise was almost like that of PM Modi. There was a lot of public speculation and media gossip about him. Plus, I have a long association with the State of Uttar Pradesh. I understand Uttar Pradesh, its complex caste dynamics, its aspirations and its shortcomings better than most people I know. 

Q3. Can you tell us something about other books that you have authored so far?

Yes, 4 Books including this one. I wrote “Uttar Pradesh Vikas ki Prateeksha mein”. After detailed research and travel in the hinterlands of the state, talking to bureaucrats, leaders and shooting a barrage of RTIs, I wrote this book in Hindi detailing the developmental challenges of Uttar Pradesh, in the area of education, health, business, roads, power, agriculture, law and order etc.
I have written a Hindi compilation of Sessions of PM Modi’s Radio Communique Man Ki Baat, sorted by headings and sub-headings.
Then I wrote “Education in India: Choice and Incentives”. It discusses the distorted Education environment in India where the consumers namely the children and parents have a weak voice and the producers namely the teachers, governments and schools have a strong voice, and none of the stakeholders involved in the system seem to have the right incentive to engage with one another.
Q4. What are the leadership qualities that Yogi Adityanath possess?
Adityanath entered the Lok Sabha very early in his life. From being the member of 12th Lok Sabha till his last speech as a parliamentarian in the 16th Lok Sabha, Adityanath has been a very active parliamentarian all along. One measures a member of parliament’s (MP) performance based on his or her attendance, debates he or she has participated in under different rules of the parliament, the nature of questions asked and the private member bills introduced in the Parliament. Adityanath’s performance is above the national average in almost all these counts. 
If we take the example of 16th Lok Sabha, he participated in 57 debates against the national average of 50.6, he asked 306 questions against a national average of 199 and introduced three private member bills, against the national average of 1.5. This data speaks volumes about his engagement in the Parliament. If we compare this data, with someone like Rahul Gandhi, a very senior leader of Congress and heir apparent of the Gandhi family, we observe that in 16th Lok Sabha Gandhi participated in only 11 debates, asked zero questions and introduced no private member bills. 
The image the mainstream media projects of Adityanath is very different from how he conducts himself in Parliament and in his constituency over the last two decades. Media has repeatedly thronged us with a few charged up election speeches of Adityanath, but has never shown us the multi-faceted interventions made by him in the Parliament. When he spoke for the rights of the Hindu community, the media painted him as a Hindu hardliner. But in my research I meticulously went through more than 300 questions that this so called ‘Hindu hardliner’ has asked in the 16th Lok Sabha. But, unfortunately, the popular media never bothered to show us this side of Adityanath and at the constituency level, his extremely popular and the effective janta darbars, keep him connected to his constituents.
Q5. What is your definition of 'Vikaas'?

- For me, Vikaas is the spiritual and material development of the country.

Q6. The BJP has emerged as the biggest political party in India since 2014. What do you foresee about 2019 general polls?

- In 2019, Modi will be safely home and will take oath again in 2019. This time NDA will have the majority and BJP may also touch the magic mark again as in 2014. 

Q7. Recently it was the news that BJP have the highest number of politicians with criminal records. What is your take on this?

- Election Commission has norms to fight elections. Whoever is eligible as per the election commission norms has every right to fight elections. Interestingly, Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi are on bail in multi crore scam. 

Q8. Are you up to another book? Is it also a political biography?

- My book on football was published in February this year with a co-author. Now, I am working on a book on the history of Bharatiya Janta Party. It will be published after elections.

Q9. Do we need a stronger opposition in our nation?

- Yes. Opposition should leave the age old politics of victimization and they should work hard to make themselves strong. Most of the political parties have become private companies run by a dynasty - Gandhis, Gaudas, Yadavs, Abdullahs are running there parties like private family outfits. In my opinion, they should allow merit over dynasty. 

Q10. How can the youth revolutionize the politics?

- Youth can revolutionize politics by voting in large numbers, by expressing there political opinions with facts on different online and offline platforms and take a courage to join politics and not be just fence sitters.

Rapid Fire Question - Who should be the face of the opposition in 2019?

- The Opposition is Faceless in 2019. 

Message for the readers of Writers Destination:

My message for the readers of Writers Destination is read books, more books and many more books. This is my only message for the readers!


Pic Credit - The Hindu, Google