The Yogi of fear and hope

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah choose a Hindutva hardliner to deliver their promise on good governance in Uttar Pradesh.

On March 21, the 44-year-old Yogi Adityanath, five-term MP from Gorakhpur and the new chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, gave his final address in the Lok Sabha. An unusually mellow Adityanath, clad in his trademark saffron attire, promised to transform UP into a model state, “free from the prejudices of caste and religion, riots and anti-social activity”. “I will invite all of you to see the new Uttar Pradesh,” he said. Part of the transformation-that of Adityanath himself from firebrand Hindutva icon to a messiah for development-had evidently begun.

However, few recent announcements have been as startling as the party’s March 18 decision to appoint the stocky yogi from eastern UP chief minister of India’s largest state.

The chorus of alarm was not unexpected. Adityanath, whose political career began in 1998, has a well-documented record at making vitriolic anti-Muslim speeches. “When I speak, thousands listen.. When I ask them to rise and protect our Hindu culture, they obey. If I ask for blood, they will give me blood. I will not stop till I turn UP and India into a Hindu rashtra,” Adityanath had said at a rally in 2009. One of five private member bills he introduced in the Lok Sabha last year was for changing the name of India to Hindustan in Article 1 of the Constitution. In November 2015, he targeted Shah Rukh Khan for suggesting there was intolerance in the country, saying there was no difference between the language of the actor and Hafiz Saeed. “If a huge mass of people boycotted his films, he will have to wander on the streets like a normal Muslim,” he had said.

The Modi-Shah CM pick took even senior cabinet ministers by surprise. Adityanath vaulted over other contenders-home minister Rajnath Singh, UP BJP president Keshav Prasad Maurya and minister of state for railways, Manoj Sinha. Maurya, the party’s OBC face, was appointed deputy CM, as was Dinesh Sharma, a Brahmin.

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Source By http://indiatoday.intoday.in

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