A video of Raghvendra Pratap Singh, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Domariyaganj in Siddharthnagar district of Uttar Pradesh (UP) is going viral in which he can be seen saying that those who will not vote for him have Muslim blood in their veins.
Raghvendra Pratap Singh is the state incharge of Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV), an organisation founded by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. The activities of HYV during the UP election are being questioned. Let’s explore what is its connection with the Assembly election campaign.
Who Is Raghvendra Pratap Singh?
“Why a Muslim will vote for me? So remember, that if anyone from the Hindu community in this village votes for the other side, it is sure that they have Muslim blood in their veins. Even after such atrocities, a Hindu goes to the other side, he can be nothing but quisling and should not be allowed to show face publicly in the community,” he said.
Singh threatened that if anyone fails to understand what he is mentioning, then he "will teach them properly what Raghvendra Pratap Singh is."
"If you sabotage me, I will bear that but if you disrespect the Hindu community, I will destroy you," he said.
Raghvendra Pratap Singh, a Disciple of Adityanath
Yogi Adityanath founded the HYV in 2002. Raghvendra Pratap Singh is his close associate and state president of the HYV. He fought the Assembly election in 2012 on a BJP ticket but lost to Malik Mohamed Kamal Yusuf of the Peace Party of India. In 2017, he defeated Saiyada Khatoon of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to become an MLA from Domariyaganj.
No Stranger to Controversies
Raghvendra Pratap Singh is no stranger to controversies and communally tinged statements. Around a fortnight ago he had said that the round skull caps are beginning to disappear, and if he wins the election, Muslims will wear vermilion on the forehead.
He said in another statement,
"Islamic terrorists compelled Hindus to wear skull caps, and they are trying their best to defeat me. I would not sit silently."
The question is, why are people related to a self-proclaimed social and cultural organisation involved in such hate speech tirades? Are these cultural organisations meant for this purpose? How do such statements and organisations affect local politics?
The Story of Hindu Yuva Vahini
Yogi Adityanath founded the HYV in 2002, just two months after the Gujarat riots. The differences between Adityanath and BJP surfaced in the Assembly elections later that year, and Adityanath fielded candidates of HYV in Gorakhpur city, Pipraich, and Munderwa Assembly constituencies.
Radha Mohan Das Agrawal of the HYV defeated Cabinet Minister Shiv Pratap Shukla, who was representing Gorakhpur city since 1989.
This gave HYV a foothold in districts of the Purvanchal area and its influence grew over the years. The rise of the HYV also aided Adityanath to emerge as the face of Hindutva in UP.
Yogi: The Face of Hindutva
The formation of the HYV changed the course of Adityanath's political career. Let’s look at some data to understand how.
In 1998, Yogi Adityanath won his first Lok Sabha election by a margin of 26,000 votes. He won in 1999 by a margin of just 7,000 votes. But after founding the HYV, he won the 2004 Lok Sabha election with a margin of 1.42 lakh votes. The victory margin crossed 3 lakh in 2009 and 2014.
The HYV is actively canvassing for Adityanath in the 2022 Assembly elections too. It is using door-to-door and virtual campaigning in favour of the incumbent CM.
In the Quagmire of Controversies
In March 2021, the HYV put posters and banners in front of various temples in Dehradun saying, “Temple is an auspicious Hindu place of worship and non-Hindus are not allowed in the temples.”
In June 2017, three members of the HYV were arrested for allegedly raping and beating a police officer.
In April 2017, members of the HYV forced themselves into a house in Meerut and beat up a Muslim couple on suspicion of Love Jihad. The video of the incident that went viral showed that the vigilantes were asking many questions to the couple before the assault.
Raghvendra Pratap Singh is continuously making divisive statements and communal tirades. During the course of the 2022 Assembly elections, he had already made two such statements targeting the minority community.
Though a case has been filed against him, it will not lead to anything concrete as the law fails to ensure any deterrence.