Lucknow: Saffron symbolizes renunciation but it is now becoming the new colour of politics, especially in the Hindi heartland.
With Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath riding the crest of popularity in politics, the sight of ascetics, clad in saffron robes, walking in and out of the Chief Minister's office is a common sight.
While Sakshi Maharaj, the controversial BJP MP from Unnao, has won the elections once again. Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, a religious preacher who was a Union Minister in the outgoing Modi government, has also won the election and is ready for a second stint in the Lok Sabha. She won the elections from Fatehpur Lok Sabha segment.
Acharya Pramod Krishnam, who heads the Kalki Ashram in Sambhal, unsuccessfully contested the recent elections from Lucknow on a Congress ticket.
Krishnam does not wear saffron - he prefers white robes.
"I am in politics because circumstances demand good people to enter this field and remove the bad elements. I am a politically aware citizen and will remain active in politics," he said.
It was the Ayodhya movement, incidentally, that blurred the line between saints and politician and gave a saffron hue to politics.
Saints like Ram Vilas Vedanti, Swami Chinmayanand and Uma Bharti are some of the saints who played an active role in the Ayodhya movement and then joined politics.
While majority of the saffron ascetics belong to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for obvious reasons, some are also opposed to the party.
Sri Bhagwan Vedantacharya had filed his nomination papers against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi but after his nomination was rejected, he spent considerable time campaigning against Modi.
Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati is another saint who campaigned against Modi in Varanasi.
Both of them claim that they campaigned against Modi because the BJP has not fulfilled its promises on the Ram temple issue.
Savitri Bai Phule, who was elected MP from Bahraich in 2014, took up caste issues when she unfurled the banner of revolt against the BJP. She claimed that the BJP was not working for the welfare of Dalits and left the party. She joined the Congress to retain her seat but lost the election.
Apart from sadhus and seers in politics, more and more legislators and MPs in Uttar Pradesh have started wearing saffron. During the Assembly session, the ministers and legislator belonging to the ruling BJP are clad in saffron kurtas while the women wear saffron saris.
"We do not wear saffron to make a statement. It is the colour of positivity and gives a good feeling. It is also the colour of the sun so it is good to wear it," said Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma.