Yogi, BJP’s new poster boy - The mercurial rise of Yogi Adityanath in Indian politics

  19 comments   |     by Adeela Naureen

The mercurial rise of Yogi Adityanath in Indian politics has sent shock waves into oppressed communities, mainly Muslims, Dalits, Sikhs and Christians.

As reported by The Guardian on 26 March 17, the monk who founded the Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV), and whose firebrand Hindu supremacist vision guides the organisation, was selected by the party of prime minister Narendra Modi to lead the most populous state in India, the equivalent of the sixth largest nation on earth. Ellen Barry in his March 18, 2017 piece in The New York Times showed concern on rise of Yogi , “The choice of Yogi Adityanath, who has been repeatedly accused of stirring anti-Muslim sentiments to lead Uttar Pradesh, came as a shock to many political observers , who have become accustomed to the carefully moderated public positions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mr. Adityanath has openly called for India to be enshrined as a ‘Hindu Rashtra,’ or Hindu nation, and supports the rebuilding of a temple to the Hindu god Ram, also known as Rama, on the site of a razed 16th-century mosque, a project that was halted after it incited bloody religious riots in the 1990s”.

Barry goes on to quote Shekhar Gupta, with Yogi’s appointment, “Modi is unveiling a vision of benign majoritarianism that means it’s a Hindu country, that’s the fact, and we’ll be nice to you if you behave yourself.” BJP and RSS have played the ‘good cop, bad cop’ game with the oppressed minorities in India with dexterity and it has worked for them in past ten years. Here are some of the quotes uttered by the firebrand Yogi hailing from Pauri Garhwal, Uttar Pradesh (now in Uttarakhand):

“If given a chance, I will install statues of Goddess Gauri, Ganesh and Nandi in every mosque.” “If men develop feminine traits they become gods, but if women develop masculine traits they become demons” “If they (Muslims) take one Hindu girl, we will take 100 Muslims girls; if they kill one Hindu, there will be 100 that we will kill in return” In the debate on intolerance in Indian media in late 2015, Adityanath commented that actor Shah Rukh Khan was using the same “language” as Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed. While talking about Surya Namaskara, and Yoga in June 2015, Adityanath, said that those who want to avoid Yoga can leave Hindustan. He “requested” those who see communalism in the Sun God to drown themselves in the sea or live in a dark room for the rest of their lives. In an NDTV report on 31 Jan 17, Adityanath praised US President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries and said similar action is needed to check terrorism in India. While campaigning for the Uttar Pradesh polls last year, the firebrand leader also focused on his party colleague’s claims of a Hindu “exodus” from western UP and warned that the region could soon “become another Kashmir”. On 3 January 2016, a day after RAW’s false flag attack on IAF base in Pathankot Adityanath compared Pakistan to ‘Satan’. Born to a Hindu monk family, Ajay Mohan Bisht was given the name ‘Yogi Adityanath’ by Mahant Avaidyanath and designated as the successor of Gorakhnath Math. His popularity amongst extremists and Hindutva warriors can be ascertained from the fact that he has been the Member of Parliament from the Gorakhpur constituency for five consecutive terms since 1998. Adityanath is also projected as the future Prime Minister of India, most probably when Hindutva Republic is fully established in 2023. As described by Christophe Jaffrelot in the Indian Express in 2014, Yogi belongs to the same cabal of Hindu Mahasabha, which produced leaders like Swami Karpatriji and Mahant Avaidyanath. Apparently Hindu Mahasabha, had kept a distance from the Sangh Parivar, however a campaign on Sarvadaliya Gauraksha Maha-Abhiyan Samiti (Committee for the Great all Party Campaign for the Protection of the Cow) by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad brought Digvijay Nath closer to the VHP in 60s., Digvijay Nath’s disciple Mahant Avaidyanath, took over the movement after his death and was elected MLA as an independent from Maniram in 1962, 1967, 1969, 1974 and 1977, he also became MP from Gorakhpur, as an independent in 1970 and as a Hindu Mahasabha candidate in 1989. Mahant Avaidyanath handed over the reins of this cabal to Yogi . Yogi Aditya joined the BJP in 90s but maintained a semi-independent status in UP politics, however his militant youth wing Hindu Yuva Vahini, remained active in violent activities in UP and set the stage for his ascension to power as CM of the most populous state of India.

Yogi has been regularly interfering in domestic politics of Nepal and in 2006; he encouraged Madhesi leaders to oppose Maoism in Nepal.

Some of Yogi’s immediate decisions after becoming CM have been, forcefully shutting down banning slaughterhouses being run by the Muslim Community, forming of anti-Romeo squads, blanket ban on cow trade in the name of cow-smuggling and giving a fillip to Love Jihad campaign targeting Hindu girls marrying Muslim youth.

Has displayed enormous stamina by holding 36 ministries to himself including Revenue, Food and Civil Supplies, Home, Housing, Town planning, Food Security and drug administration, Economics and statistics, prison, general administration, secretariat administration, Mines and Minerals, Flood control, stamp and registry, vigilance, personnel and appointment, information, institutional finance, planning, estate department, urban land, UP state reorganisation committee, administration reforms, programme implementation, national integration, infrastructure, coordination, language, external aided project, Relief and Rehabilitation, Public Service Management, Rent Control, Consumer protection, weights and measures.

Yogi singled-out Muslim religious schools to provide video evidence that their students had sung the Indian national anthem. For India’s Independence Day celebrations in 2017. Earlier, Yogi ran ‘purification drive’ in 2005 for forced conversion of 1,800 Christians to Hinduism in the town of Etah in UP stating that he wouldn’t stop until he turns Uttar Pradesh and India into a Hindu state.

The rise of Hindutva Republic is unstoppable, especially when hardliners like Yogi Aditya are being projected to take over the reins of the Rajpath in near future. Indian secular façade has been unveiled and Gandhism seems to be dying an unfortunate but sure death. A belligerent Hindutva Republic is a bad omen for oppressed communities within India as well as for the immediate periphery of South Asia and beyond. Can the international community help India in stemming the tide of Saffron Terror (armed with nuclear weapons); this may be the million dollar question of 21st century.

 The author is a freelance journalist.

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