Yogi Adityanath: 'Give him a chance' and six other meaningless arguments busted
Even ardent Modi supporters were once disdainful of him. He's now the chief minister of India's largest state.Hindutva hardliner Adityanath, who uses the honorific “yogi”, was on Sunday sworn in as Uttar Pradesh’s new chief minister, after Bharatiya Janata Party Legislative Assembly elected him to head the state government. Adityanath is a significant departure from the BJP’s previous picks for chief ministers under party president Amit Shah, who until now seemed to prefer lesser-known faces with clean track records who can push a development narrative instead of a communal one.
Adityanath is different. He is the religious head of the Goraknath Math, and a household name across Uttar Pradesh. Adityanath is extremely popular among the BJP’s core base in UP, and is independently influential enough that he hasn’t always felt the need to toe the party line.
His track record is by no means clean. Charges against Adityanath, listed in his own election affidavit, include attempt to murder, criminal intimidation, rioting, promoting enmity between different groups and defiling place of worship. He has regularly used communally charged language in his rallies, prompting the Election Commission to reprimand him.
The BJP came to power in 2014 on a platform that promised jobs and development. At the time people like Adityanath were considered the extremist fringe of the broader BJP project. Tavleen Singh, a columnist known to be favourable to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, called him a “foul-mouthed fanatic” who is either “sick or mad.”
In 2015, after Adityanath said actor Shah Rukh Khan was no different from Laskar-e-Tayyeba founder Hafiz Saeed, BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said, “His comments are incorrect and uncalled for. They do not reflect in any way the core belief of BJP or that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
Now the man who was called foul-mouthed fanatic and unrepresentative of Modi’s views is chief minister of India’s largest, most populous state. Those discussing the question of why he was picked have a few arguments that aim to whitewash the obvious communal decision the BJP has made. [. . .]
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