A champion of hardline Hindutva is set to take charge of India’s most electorally significant state. (Photo: PTI)
| 5 min read

New UP CM Yogi Adityanath’s Tryst With Free (Hate?) Speech

Given a chance, the man says he would place Ganesh idols in every mosque. He wants those opposing the Surya Namaskar to leave India or drown themselves in the ocean. And thinks Shah Rukh Khan sounds like Hafiz Saeed when the actor complains of growing intolerance in Indian society.

Yet Yogi Adityanath’s critics and supporters alike would agree that it is his firebrand version of Hindutva that has played a key role in getting him where he is today – poised to be the next Chief Minister of India’s most electorally significant state.

Minority-Friendly? Not Yogi

I will not stop till I turn UP and India into a Hindu rashtra
Yogi Adityanath at Etah, Uttar Pradesh in 2005
(Graphic: The Quint)
(Graphic: The Quint)

In a television interview in the run-up to the UP Assembly elections, Yogi Adityanath defended changing the names of places with Muslim names to those with Hindu names. Gorakhpur’s Miyan Bazaar was changed to Maya Bazaar, Ali Nagar to Arya Nagar, Urdu Bazaar to Hindi Bazaar, and so on.

It’s not just Adityanath’s stance on the nomenclature of places, however, that has given him an image of being ‘unfriendly’ towards minority communities. It’s what the five-time MP has said in the past. In September 2014, Adityanath had told a rally in Noida:

There have been 450 riot cases in West UP in two-and-a-half years of Samajwadi Party rule because the population of a particular community is rising manifold. Why are there no riots in Eastern UP? You can easily understand. In places where there are 10 to 20% minorities, 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.
(Graphic: The Quint)
(Graphic: The Quint)

In the buildup to the polls, Adityanath positioned himself to the electorate as someone who would safeguard the communal ‘demographic balance’ of Uttar Pradesh.

Issues like the exodus of Hindus from Kairana, love jihad and women’s safety will dominate the poll scene. Yogi is not talking about today, Yogi is talking about the future. The BJP will not let western Uttar Pradesh turn into another Kashmir. Political leaders in this country speak against the majority community in the name of secularism. Governments in UP give land for kabristans (graveyards) but not for shamshanghats (cremation grounds).

Despite multiple reports finding little basis to the allegations of a forced Hindu exodus from Kairana, Adityanath had said in June last year:

The exodus of Hindus from Kairana is a result of pseudo-secularism and appeasement policies pursued by different governments in Uttar Pradesh. Because of this, the population of Hindus which was once 68 percent has come down to 8 percent there.

When Adityanath Wished He Could Place a Hindu Idol in Every Mosque

(Graphic: The Quint)
(Graphic: The Quint)

Adityanath was speaking at the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s ‘Virat Hindu Sammelan’ in Varanasi.

Every time a Hindu visits the Vishwanath temple, the Gyanvapi mosque taunts us. If given a chance, we will install statues of Goddess Gauri, Ganesh and Nandi in every mosque. 
(Graphic: The Quint)
(Graphic: The Quint)

At a temple ceremony in Varanasi, the Lok Sabha constituency of PM Narendra Modi, Adityanath had declared that those opposing the surya namaskar, a salutation to the sun, should leave the country. Or better still, drown in the ocean.

When Yogi Compared SRK to 26/11 Mastermind Hafiz Saeed

(Graphic: The Quint)
(Graphic: The Quint)

Yogi Adityanath was not amused when Shah Rukh Khan entered the debate on rising intolerance in India. SRK had remarked that there was “nothing worse than religious intolerance and that it would take India to the Dark Ages.” He retaliated with what can only be called a warning to the actor.

These people speak the language of terrorists. There is no difference between the language of Shah Rukh Khan and that of Hafiz Saeed. He should remember that if a huge mass of people boycotts his films, he will also have to wander on the streets like a normal Muslim.  

‘Mother Teresa? She Was a Christian Conspirator’

(Graphic: The Quint)
(Graphic: The Quint)

Mother Teresa may have won a Nobel Peace Prize for her work for the poorest of the poor. But that wasn’t enough to win praise from Yogi Adityanath. In June last year, the BJP MP referred to Teresa as a member of an alleged conspiracy 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, including Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland. 

On the same day, he was also reported as commenting on Ayodhya’s Ram Mandir issue, saying no one could prevent its construction.

When they could not stop karsevaks from demolishing the Babri Masjid, how will they be able to stop us from carrying out the construction of the mandir?

Yogi Adityanath will be sworn in as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh on Sunday. With the general election barely two years away, how will the ascension of the firebrand leader affect the BJP’s fortunes? Moreover, what will its impact be on national politics? The answer to those questions, as to many others, lies in 2019.