A five-term Lok Sabha MP, BJP leader Yogi Adityanath is a fiery Hindutva mascot who has developed a reputation of being controversy’s favourite child over a period of time.
Named as the next chief minister of Uttar Pradesh today, 44-year-old Adityanath, a priest-turned-politician, is known for his provocative speeches and mass following across the state and never shies away from making controversial remarks, be it about Islam or Pakistan.
Clad in his trademark saffron-coloured robe, Aditayanth, a Gorakhpur MP, has been seeking greater power and is expected to give a push to BJP’s Hindutva-wrapped agenda of development with the emergence of a separate powerbase for the party in eastern UP.
Born Ajay Singh, the diminutive shaven headed politician is known for his powerful oratory, though most of his speeches hinge on divisive lines and has been in the forefront in keeping the communal politics alive in the country.
Adityanath, who is a strong votary of construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, drove BJP’s Hindutva campaign in eastern UP in the just concluded Assembly polls in the politically crucial state where it won three- fourths majority.
Adityanath has rebelled against his party on several occasions, but because of the sway he holds over the ‘Hindu’ voters, the BJP apparently could not ignore his ‘leadership qualities.’
He had floated Hindu Yuva Vahini, a right-wing outfit, in 2002. Ever since, the HYV has been largely instrumental in his meteoric rise – from a student leader to five-time MP.
Right from comparing Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan to Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed during the intolerance debate in 2015 to asking people to leave India if they don’t practice Surya Namaskar in 2015, the Yogi has been at the centre of several controversies.
Playing the religious card during the pre-poll campaign, the firebrand leader had said that controversial issues like ‘love jihad’ and ‘Kairana Hindu’ exodus have always been on his party’s agenda.
He had also said that the hurdles on the path of construction of a grand Ram temple will be gradually removed and its construction will soon start in Ayodhya.
Born on June 5 1972, Adityanath was the youngest member of the 12th Lok Sabha at 26. He has been elected as an MP from Gorakhpur to the Lok Sabha in the 1998, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014 elections.
In 2005, Adityanath allegedly led a purification drive which involved the conversion of Christians to Hinduism. In one such instance, 1,800 Christians were reportedly converted to Hinduism in the town of Etah in UP.