He is the head priest of the Gorakhnath Math and is also the head of administration in Uttar Pradesh. He is a Hindutva hardliner but is also hailed as a pro-development people's representative. Yogi Adityanath may or may not be anything; but a firebrand, he sure is. Yogi Adityanath has ben controversy's favourite child but also BJP's pick for the top post in Uttar Pradesh. His rise and rise in politics in awe-inspiring but some of his statements are cringeworthy. We take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly.
The two maths in Yogi's life
Born to a forest ranger father, Adityanath holds a bachelor's degree in Mathematics from the Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University in Srinagar of Uttarakhand. Born as Ajay Bisht, he renounced his family at the age of 21 and became Yogi Adityanath. He became a disciple of Mahant Avaidyanath. He left home to join the Ayodhya Ram temple movement.
Yogi in public life
Adityanath contested the Lok Sabha elections in 1998 and got elected for the first time with a margin of over 26,000 votes. His popularity has been soaring ever since and in the 2014 general elections, he won Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat by more than 3 lakh votes. Adityanath is credited with establishing a school in his ancestral village in 1998. At the age of 44, he has been a five-time MP. Adityanath was the youngest member of the 12th Lok Sabha. He has raised questions on agriculture, health, civil aviation, climate change, Finance etc in the Lok Sabha.
The cow crusader
Adityanath is credited with championing the cause of cows in Gorakhpur. He founded Hindu Yuva Vahini, which according to him is a reformist outfit that works for the betterment of villages and protection of cows. The outfit, however, has been held responsible for riots, arson in Uttar Pradesh. Adityanath calls himself a gau-sevak is known for spending a lot of his time and energy in the cowshed maintained at Goraksh Nath Math. During campaigning for Uttar Pradesh elections, Adityanath had promised to shut down all the illegal slaughterhouses in Uttar Pradesh.
The Trump way
Adityanath had hailed Donald Trump's decision to enact a ban on immigration for citizens from Muslim-majority countries and had suggested that India also adopts such measures to 'counter terrorism'. Trump's move may have been criticised worldwide but Yogi, in a rally in Bulandshahr had said, "Similar action is needed to contain terror activities in this country."
Not a surprise pick after all
Contrary to reports, many leaders of the BJP claimed that Adityanath was a contender for Uttar Pradesh chief minister's post months before the elections. The master strategist of the BJP's victory in Uttar Pradesh Amit Shah had considered Yogi's candidature for CM post much before the elections were announced. It is also said that BJP president Amit Shah bargained hard for Adityanath's appointment as the chief minister.
The 'angry young' yogi
A 'non-violent agitation' that Adityanath initiated turned violent in Gorakhpur leading to his arrest. This and the aftermath led to his 'angry young man' image. He began a non-violent agitation after a Hindu boy was killed when some miscreants opened fire during Moharram procession in Gorakhpur. Inflammatory speeches led to mercury levels rising and all hell broke loose. He led a march and gave a speech vowing to deliver justice despite prohibitory orders. He was arrested but his popularity touched new heights in Gorakhpur. His outfit was accused of riots, arson and vandalising post his arrest.
Man of many controversies
In 2014, Adityanath, during a rally in Noida had said that more communal riots take place in localities that houses minorities. "In places where there are 10 to 20% Muslims, stray communal incidents take place. Where there are 20 to 35% of them, serious communal riots take place and where they are more than 35%, there is no place for non-Muslims," he had said.
Idea of an idol in every mosque
During Vishwa Hindu Parishad's Virat Hindu Sammelan in 2015, Adityanath accused the Gyanvapi mosque of taunting Hindus visiting the famous Kashi temple Vishwanath temple. "Given a chance, we will install idols of Goddess Gauri, Ganesh and Nandi in every mosque," he had said.
The 'mother' of all controversies of Yogi
Adityanath spared no one when it came to defending Hindutva. In June 2016, he had alleged that Mother Teresa was a conspirator who wanted to Christianise India. "Teresa was part of a conspiracy for the Christianisation of India. Incidents of Christianisation is what has led to separatist movements in parts of Northeast India," he had said about the Nobel peace prize winner.
The Yogi of Yoga
In June 2015 speaking about Yoga in general and Suryanamakara in specific, Adityanath had asked all those who wanted to avoid Yoga to leave the country or live the rest of their lives in a dark room or drown. "My humble request, to those who see communalism even in the Sun God, would be to drown themselves in the sea or live in a dark room for the rest of their lives."