A five-term Lok Sabha Memeber of Parliament (MP) from Gorakhpur, Yogi Adityanath, popularly known as Mahant, has been named as the upcoming Chief Minister of UP.
However, the announcement has created ripples among the people across the country. Owing to Yogi's controversial statements, particularly targeting minorities has brought him the flak post-announcement of his position as the CM. To put the argument in place, we will cite a few controversial provocations made by the Mahant.
For years, Adityanath has been engaged in divisive rhetoric and has, in the process, established himself as the foremost firebrand Hindutva leader. Some of his most virulent statements are given below.
(1) On installing idols in mosques: During Vishwa Hindu Parishad's Virat Hindu Sammelan organised in Varanasi by the Deccan Chronicle in February 2015, the yogi was quoted as saying, "If given a chance, we will install statues of Goddess Gauri, Ganesh and Nandi in every mosque." This statement is completely against the spirit of the Indian constitution.
(2) Accusing Mother Teresa: During a rally in Basti on June 21, 2016, he accused Mother Teresa of "conspiracy to Christianise India." His lack of knowledge for the problems afflicting the northeast states came to light when he accused, "Teresa was part of a conspiracy for Christianization of India. Incidents of Christianization had led to separatist movements in parts of northeast, including Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland." The Mahant's statement reek of ignorance about his country and constitution that guarantees the right to preach, profess and practice one's religion.
(3) Shah Rukh Khan Controversy: His statement and speeches are clearly anti-minority. Reducing Shah Rukh Khan, the King of Bollywood cinema, to his Muslim identity, the yogi in November 2015, compared Khan to Pakistani sponsored Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and said the actor should go to that country if he did not like the atmosphere in India.
(4) International Yoga Day: In June 2015, on the issue of compulsory participation of government employees in International Yoga Day, the BJP leader and now CM-designate UP had remarked, "Lord Shankar was the biggest Yogi who started Yoga. Mahadev (another name of Lord Shankar) lives in every particle of this country. So, those who want to avoid Yoga and Lord Shankar can leave Hindustan."
(5) Anti-Muslim Rhetoric: With a complete disregard for law and order, the CM-designate has repeatedly has gone on to abuse the collective Muslim identity. In an undated video, he is heard spitting out venom, "If one Hindu is killed, we won't go to the Police, instead, we will kill 10 Muslims." In another video, he encourages and legitimizes the abduction of Muslim girls. Here is seen saying, "If they take one Hindu girl, we'll take 100 Muslim girls."
The worst among the anti-Muslim rhetoric came on March 3, 2015, when the yogi was seen calling upon his brigade asking them to dig the graves of Muslim women and defile their dead bodies by raping them.
(6) Support for Dadri lynching: Adding insult to injury, in January 2017, Adityanath justified the lynching of Muhammad Akhlaq on grounds of eating beef. He said that the family of Akhlaq should face charges for cow slaughter and be stripped of the assistance they had been given after his killing.
Adityanath's past records of hate speech, amounting to incitement of violence and riots, makes him the most controversial and unsuitable candidate for the post of Chief Minister of the largest state of Uttar Pradesh that constitutes 20 per cent of Muslim population. The Muslims have been the primary target of provocative statements and verbal assaults. Much like compromising on the spirit of the Indian Constitution, Adityanath has also been in a tussle with the state Police in the past and today he will be presiding over the same administration, which has prevented him from visiting communally sensitive areas.
While he assumes power in day or two, what needs to be seen is the unfolding of the social ramifications of this political decision. He is accused of instigating communal violence and riots in the past and the criminal cases leveled against him include, charges of attempt to murder, criminal intimidation, rioting, promoting enmity between different religious groups and defiling places of worship.