A brief look at how the militant ‘yogi’ has built his political career out of spewing venom against Muslims.
BJP’s decision to choose Ajay Singh Bisht alias Yogi Adityanath, the most aggressive campaigner of Hindutva and leader of the eastern UP-based vigilante organisation Hindu Yuva Vahini, has silenced many commentators who considered the Gorakhpur MP as only a ‘fringe’ element in the party. His appointment is being seen as the biggest push the saffron party has given to its age-old agenda of a Hindu Rashtra.
The party’s resurgent stand against minorities is something which one cannot miss if its campaign in the run-up to the UP polls is reviewed. The recent appointment of 31-year-old Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, founder of the vigilante group Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena, which assaulted human rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan in his office, as one of the main spokesperson of Delhi BJP is also a case in point. That Bhagat Singh firmly opposed communal politics during his brief, incandescent life is a further irony.
The elevation of such militant youth leaders to important party positions signals a clear party strategy to promote a culture of Hindutva vigilantism among the youth and, in the process, bring the so-called fringe into the mainstream.
Adityanath personifies the Sangh parivar’s strategy to communalise the issues of development. The Wire covered one of his recent election rallies in Sultanpur. He spoke for less than ten minutes but made clear and direct points.
While claiming that BJP is going to form the government in UP, he said,
“…Jo log abhi bhi gumrah hai, wey kaan khol ke sun le ki SP and BSP ka matlab, desh ka paisa kabristan aur karbala mein lagana. Aur BJP ka matlab, is desh mein aapki aaastha ka pratik Ayodhya mein Bhagwan Ram ka Bhavya Mandir ke nirman (people who are misguided, listen to this that SP and BSP means that country’s funds would be utilised in graveyards and Islamic shrines. And BJP means construction of Ram Mandir, which symbolises your faith in this country, in Ayodhya.”
In his tirade against the policy of so-called “Muslim appeasement” followed by other parties, he went on to attack SP and BSP further,
“Pratispradha is baat ki nahin hai ki kaun kitna vikaas kar sakta hai, pratispradha is baat ki hai kaun kitna musalmanon ko pratyashi bana sakta hai…jab unko aapse matlab nahin, tab un logon ko wohin bhejo jahan se unko vote milta ho. (In UP, competition is not for who can do better development but it is for which party can give more election tickets to Muslims…if they do not care about you, then you should send them to those places where they get their votes).”
While declaring that only Muslims have benefitted from the SP government, he claimed,
“Unhone kaha ki kanya vidya dhan denge, nahin diya, kewal kaha denge toh sirf muslim kanyayon ko denge …Jab aap unke agende mein kahin nahin hai, aapke liye koi yojana nahin hai, aapke liye koi karyakram nahin hai…aap sabse appeal hai Jinhe jo pasand hai unhe wahan bhejo (They said that they will give a scholarship for girls but they did not give it. Instead, they said these scholarships will go to only Muslim girls…If you do not figure in their agenda, if they do not have any scheme for you, if they do not have any programme for you…I appeal to you, send them there where they like).”
He was criticising, what the BJP has alleged to be, selective implementation of the scholarship scheme, which the SP government has introduced as an affirmative action measure to promote education among the girls from poor families. While around 40% of the scheme funds was reserved for minorities, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, Adityanath portrayed it as a scheme only for Muslims but could not back his claim with any evidence.
Similarly, in trying to push his communal agenda, he invoked Azam Khan, the SP leader who too has courted controversies because of his statements. He provoked his Hindu audience with Azam Khan’s name while advancing the Sangh parivar’s baseless campaign, Love Jihad:
“Akeli BJP hai, jo Pradesh mein Azam Khan jaise uchhinton ke liye Anti-Romeo squad gathith karne ki baat karti hai…udandata jyada ki toh yamraj ka ghar toh zaroori hoga…(It is only BJP which talks about constituting an anti-Romeo squad to counter rogues like Azam Khan. If they go outside their limits, then they will be sent to Yamraj’s home.)”
Interestingly, soon after he assumed office, one of the first administrative decisions of his government was to form an anti-Romeo squad.
Throughout his Sultanpur campaign speech, Adityanath kept talking about the deteriorating law and order situation in the state and indirectly blamed Muslims and SP patronage to them for it. He called on businessmen, workers, and youth not to migrate out of this fear, reminding people of the “Kairana exodus” – a baseless allegation made popular by BJP leaders like Hukum Singh and Adityanath himself.
In the run-up to the polls, Adityanath had stressed only on two issues – the Kairana exodus and Love Jehad. Although both these issues have been dismissed many times and there is no evidence to back the Sangh’s charges, both the BJP and Adityanath used them to consolidate Hindus against Muslims.
It is statements like this over the years that have helped him grow in political stature within Hindu nationalist circles and which have eventually pushed the BJP high command in to rewarding him with the top job in Uttar Pradesh.