Uttar Pradesh 2017

Yogi Adityanath: a hard Hindutva face of BJP

Newly elected leader of BJP Legislature Party, Yogi Adityanath, designated as new Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, flanked by Deputy Chief Ministers designate, Keshav Prasad Maurya (left) and Dinesh Sharma in Lucknow on Saturday.

Newly elected leader of BJP Legislature Party, Yogi Adityanath, designated as new Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, flanked by Deputy Chief Ministers designate, Keshav Prasad Maurya (left) and Dinesh Sharma in Lucknow on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: Rajeev Bhatt

Yogi Adityanath, head of the powerful Gorakhnath peeth, is not shy of flaunting his hardline Hindutva

The 44-year-old Yogi Adityanath is more than just a Member of Parliament, or even the head of the powerful Gorakhnath peeth which wields powerful influence in eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Mr. Adityanath heads the 15-year-old Hindu Yuva Vahini, which describes itself as a socio-cultural organisation, but has been involved in several incidents of violence in the past.

In 2007, members of the outfit allegedly set afire the Mumbai-Gorakhpur Godan Express after Mr. Adityanath was arrested in a case registered in Gorakhpur.

 

His exclusion from the State BJP election committee before the Assembly polls led to protests by the Yuva Vahini, and it was only when he was deployed across the State, tempers were calmed.

Minority baiting

Yogi Adityanath has been the hard Hindutva face of the party in the 15 years it spent in political wilderness in the State and after the influence of former CM Kalyan Singh declined. He is no stranger to controversies. While his speech to the BJP MLAs after being elected their leader on Saturday was about development, his Hindutva image and “toughness” are the qualities for which he has been chosen, senior party leaders say.

 

BJP workers celebrate in Varanasi on Saturday after the announcement of Yogi Adityanath as Uttar Pradesh CM.

BJP workers celebrate in Varanasi on Saturday after the announcement of Yogi Adityanath as Uttar Pradesh CM.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Adityanath is no stranger to controversy. Apart from the violence after his arrest in 2007, he compared film star Shah Rukh Khan to terrorist Hafiz Saeed during the debate on intolerance that had broken out in 2015, as well as demanding, again in 2015, that those who opposed the Surya Namaskar in Yoga could leave for Pakistan.

Born Ajay Singh Bisht in Uttarakhand in 1972, Yogi Adityanath was adopted by Mahant Avaidyanath of the powerful Gorakhnath peeth in Gorakhpur as a teenager, gaining deeksha for sanyas or renunciation, at the peeth in 1994. When his Avaidyanath passed away, Adityanath inherited not just the peeth, but also the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat that was held by Avaidyanath for three terms, winning it for himself for five consecutive terms beginning in 1998.

 

The Chief Minister designate has completed a BSc in Mathematics from the Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University. But is was not his skills with numbers that impressed BJP chief Amit Shah during the 2014 General Elections.

“Amitbhai (Shah) was travelling from between Varanasi to Azamgarh to address a public meeting, when his path was blocked by members of the opposing party in a minority dominated area. The local police too couldn’t help matters. But a dozen bikers with the Hindu Yuva Vahini flags turned up and escorted Mr. Shah’s car past the blockade,” recalled a close aide of Mr. Shah. The rescue act seems to have paid dividends on Saturday.

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Corrections & Clarifications: Editing error -  In the report, the qualifying word allegedly was edited out from the sentence: “In 2007, members of the outfit [Hindu Yuva Vahini] set afire the Mumbai-Gorakhpur Godan Express after Mr. Adityanath was arrested in a case registered in Gorakhpur.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 8:25:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/uttar-pradesh-2017/a-hard-hindutva-face-of-bjp/article17529531.ece

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