Lucknow: Yogi Adityanath has been appointed as the new chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. The ‘sanyasi’ from Garhwal area in Uttarakhand, who was once the youngest member of the Lok Sabha at just 26-years of age, has been catapulted to the top post in the largest state in the country.
While many people were simply dumb-founded by the decision of the party leadership that has tried to project a development agenda for the country, the long-term analysis were not amused.
The way the saffron party fought the election in the state from the day one, it was pretty clear that the party was seeking polarization of the majority community on the religious lines. There is no denying that it worked hard on the ground, but it was more to do with the polarization of the majority community across the state, that finally brought rich dividends for the saffron outfits.
Yogi Adityanath, the firebrand leader, Mahant of one of the biggest Hindu temples in the eastern UP and the founder of Hindu Yuva Vahini’s power was never in doubt. Vahini is an outfit of extremist rightist thoughts that thrives on anti-Muslim and anti-minorities ideology and has local branches in majority of districts in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Yogi Adityanath won his first Lok Sabha election when he was barely 26 year old. He has been winning from his constituency since 1998, a seat where his spiritual father Mahant Avaidyanath had won from 1989-98.
His original name is Ajay Singh and he belongs to Garhwali Rajput family. Born on 5 June 1972 in the village Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand, Adityanath completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from the Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University in Srinagar, Uttarakhand, formerly Uttar Pradesh.
The priest who always wears saffron attire is according to the Indian Express is “a strong votary of construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, drove BJP’s Hindutva campaign in eastern UP in the just concluded Assembly polls in the politically crucial state where it won three-fourths majority”.
Yogi Adityanath minces no words and has been vociferous supporter of shuddhikaran or conversion of Muslims and Christians to Hinduism. In the year 2005, the priest reportedly led a purification drive which involved the conversion of Christians to Hinduism. In one such instance, 1,800 Christians were reportedly converted to Hinduism in the town of Etah in UP. However, the Yogi does not think of these as conversion drives, but instead claims them to be ‘re-conversions’ or ghar wapsi.
It is said that Adityanath left his family at an early age and became a disciple of Mahant Avaidyanath, then the head priest of Gorakhnath Math. He rode through the ranks of priests pretty fast. He was promoted to the rank of Mahant of Guru Gorakhnath Temple, following the death of Mahant Aavaidyanath on 12 Sept 2014. Yogi Adityanath was made Peethadhishwar of Gorakhnath Temple amid traditional rituals of the Nath sect on 14 September 2014.
If you want to know his extremist views, it wouldn’t take you long to discover that. There is no dearth of evidence for being anti-minority. In March 2011, the documentary film Saffron War – Radicalization of Hinduism accused Adityanath of promoting communal disharmony through a Virat Hindustan rally in rural Uttar Pradesh. Adityanath shared the stage during a hate speech in which an unidentified speaker urged the Hindu audience to dig up the graves of Muslim women and rape the corpses.
When Prime Minister Modi brought forth the idea of Yoga Day, it was opposed by many. In the wake of opposition against Yoga Day being made compulsory, according to The Hindu, Adityanath said those who want to avoid Yoga can “leave Hindustan”. He further said that those people opposing ‘Surya Namaskar’ should drown themselves in the sea. Gorakhpur riots of 2007 were reportedly ignited by his fiery speech. Minorities were attacked, their properties and places of worship burned.