|21st Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh|
19 March 2017
|Deputy||Keshav Prasad Maurya
|Preceded by||Akhilesh Yadav|
|Member of the India Parliament
|Preceded by||Mahant Avaidyanath|
|Born||Ajay Singh Bisht
5 June 1972
Panchur, Pauri Garhwal, Uttar Pradesh (now in Uttarakhand)
|Political party||Bharatiya Janata Party|
|Alma mater||H. N. B. Garhwal University|
Mahant Yogi Adityanath (born Ajay Singh Bisht; 5 June 1972) is an Indian priest and politician with an image as a Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) "firebrand". He is the current Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, a state in north India, in March 2017 after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured majority in the 2017 state assembly elections in which he was a prominent campaigner. He has been the Member of Parliament from the Gorakhpur constituency, Uttar Pradesh for five consecutive terms since 1998. Adityanath is also the Mahant or head priest of the Gorakhnath Math, a Hindu temple in Gorakhpur, a position he has held since the death of his spiritual "father," Mahant Avaidyanath, in September 2014. He is also the founder of the Hindu Yuva Vahini, an extremist and militant youth organisation that has been involved in communal violence.
Early life and education
Yogi Adityanath was born as Ajay Singh Bisht into a Garhwali Rajput family on 5 June 1972 in the village of Panchur, in Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand (formerly in Uttar Pradesh). His father Anand Singh Bisht was a forest ranger. He completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from the Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University in Uttarakhand.
He left home around 1990s to join the Ayodhya Ram temple movement. He came under the influence of Mahant Avaidyanath, the chief priest of the Gorakhnath Math, and became his disciple. Subsequently he was given the name 'Yogi Adityanath' and designated as the successor of the Mahant Avaidyanath. While based in Gorakhpur after his initiation, Adityanath has often visited his ancestral village, establishing a school there in 1998.
Adityanath renounced his family at the age of 21 and became a disciple of Mahant Avaidyanath, then the head priest of Gorakhnath Math. He was promoted to the rank of Mahant of Guru Gorakhnath Temple, following the death of Mahant Aavaidyanath on 12 September 2014. Yogi Adityanath was made Peethadhishwar of Gorakhnath Temple amid traditional rituals of the Nath sect on 14 September 2014.
Scholar Christophe Jaffrelot states that Yogi Adityanath belongs to a specific tradition of Hindutva politics in Uttar Pradesh that can be traced back to the Mahant Digvijay Nath, who led the capture of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya for Hindus on 22 December 1949. Both Digvijay Nath and his successor, Mahant Avaidyanath, belonged to the Hindu Mahasabha and were elected to the Parliament on that party's ticket. After the BJP and the Sangh Parivar joined the Ayodhya movement in the 1980s, the two strands of Hindu nationalism came together. Avaidyanath switched to the BJP in 1991, but nevertheless maintained significant autonomy. Yogi Adityanath was appointed Avaidyanath's successor as the Mahant of Gorakhnath Math in 1994. Four years later, he was elected to the Lower House of the Indian Parliament (the Lok Sabha).
After his first electoral win, Adityanath started his own militant youth wing Hindu Yuva Vahini, which has been known for violent activities in the Purvanchal region in eastern Uttar Pradesh but was instrumental in Adityanath's meteoric rise. There have been recurrent tensions between Adityanath and the BJP leadership over the allocation of election tickets. However, the BJP has not let the tensions mount because Adityanath has served as a star campaigner for the party.
Yogi's attendance in Lok Sabha was 77% and he has asked 284 questions, participated in 56 debates and introduced three private member Bills in the 16th Lok Sabha.
Relations with the BJP
Adityanath has had strained relations with the BJP for more than a decade. He often derided and undermined the BJP, criticising its dilution of the Hindutva ideology. Having established his own independent powerbase in Eastern Uttar Pradesh, with the support of the Hindu Yuva Vahini and the Gorakhnath Math, he felt confident to be able to dictate terms to the BJP. When his voice was not heard, he revolted by fielding candidates against the official BJP candidates. The most prominent example was the fielding of Radha Mohan Das Agarwal from Gorakhpur on a Hindu Mahasabha ticket in 2002, who then defeated BJP Cabinet minister, Shiv Pratap Shukla by a wide margin. In 2007, Adityanath threatened to field 70 candidates for the state assembly against the BJP candidates. But he reached a compromise in the end. In 2009 Parliamentary elections, Adityanath was rumoured to have campaigned against the BJP candidates who were then defeated.
Despite his periodic revolts, Yogi Adityanath has been kept in good humour by the RSS and the BJP leaders. The deputy prime minister L. K. Advani, the RSS chief Rajendra Singh and the VHP chief Ashok Singhal have visited him in Gorakhpur. During 22–24 December 2006, Adityanath organised a three-day Virat Hindu Mahasammelan at Gorakhpur at the same time as the BJP National Executive Meet in Lucknow. Despite the conflict, several RSS and VHP leaders attended the Mahasammelan, which issued a commitment to pursue the Hindutva goals despite the BJP's claimed "abandonment" of them.
Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh
He was a prominent campaigner for the BJP in the 2017 assembly elections in the state of Uttar Pradesh. He was appointed Chief Minister of the state on 19 March 2017 after the BJP won the assembly elections. The illegal slaughterhouses in Uttar Pradesh faced shutdowns from the administration after his becoming the Chief Minister. Yogi ordered the forming of anti-romeo squads and imposed a blanket ban on cow-smuggling. He also imposed a stay on UPPSC results, exams and interviews till further order. He imposed a ban on tobacco, pan and gutka in government offices across the state and made the officials pledge to devote 100 hours every year for the Swachh Bharat Mission. More than 100 policemen were suspended by the Uttar Pradesh police.
After becoming the CM of UP, he kept around 36 ministries to himself including Home, Housing, Town and country planning department, Revenue, Food and Civil Supplies, Food Security and drug administration, Economics and statistics, Mines and Minerals, Flood control, stamp and registry, prison, general administration, secretariat administration, vigilance, personnel and appointment, information, institutional finance, planning, estate department, urban land, UP state reorganisation committee, administration reforms, programme implementation, national integration, infrastructure, coordination, language, external aided project, Relief and Rehabilitation, Public Service Management, Rent Control, Consumer protection, weights and measures.
In 2005, Adityanath 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 Uttar Pradesh. He said, "I will not stop till I turn UP and India into a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu state)."
In January 2007, an altercation occurred amidst a Hindu group and Muslims during a Muharram procession in Gorakhpur which led to the hospitalisation of a young Hindu, Raj Kumar Agrahari. The District Magistrate made it clear that Adityanath should not visit the site as it may inflame tensions. He initially agreed but after Agrahari died, he disobeyed the magistrate and travelled to the site with a group of his followers. Adityanath started a non-violent dharna on the site. However inflammatory speeches were made and some of his followers set fire to a nearby mazar (Muslim mausoleum). A curfew was implemented by the local police, but Adityanath broke it and was subsequently jailed under Section 151A, Sections 146, 147, 279, 506 of the Indian Penal Code. He was arrested and remanded for a fortnight, on charges of disturbing peace. His arrest led to further unrest and several coaches of the Mumbai bound Mumbai-Gorakhpur Godan Express were burnt, allegedly by protesting Hindu Yuva Vahini activists. The day after the arrest, the District Magistrate along with the local police chief, were transferred and replaced. This was "widely perceived" as a result of "Adityanath's clout" with the Uttar Pradesh government of Mulayam Singh Yadav. The tensions soon escalated to riots across Gorakhpur leading to the burning of mosques, homes, buses and trains.  After his release, Adityanath protested his jailing in the Parliament.
In March 2011, the documentary film Saffron War - Radicalization of Hinduism accused Adityanath of promoting communal disharmony through a Virat Hindustan rally in rural Uttar Pradesh. Adityanath shared the stage during a hate speech in which an unidentified speaker urged the Hindu audience to dig up the graves of Muslim women and rape the corpses. Recording of this event went viral on social media in March 2015. In August 2014, political activist and lawyer Shehzaad Poonawala wrote to the National Commission for Minorities demanding that a police First Information Report be filed against Yogi Adityanath.
In an undated video that surfaced on YouTube during August 2014, Adityanath, reportedly during a public speech at Azamgarh, referring to the religious conversions due to inter-religious marriages, has said, "if they take one Hindu girl, we will take 100 Muslims girls." In the same video, he continues to say, "if they kill one Hindu, there will be 100 that we" and pauses, as the gathered crowd shouts: "kill".
In June 2015, Adityanath, while talking about Surya Namaskara, and Yoga has said, "those who want to avoid Yoga can leave Hindustan". He added, "my humble request to those who see communalism in even Sun God would be to drown themselves in the sea or live in a dark room for the rest of their lives.
During the intolerance debate in the Indian media in late 2015, Adityanath compared actor Shah Rukh Khan to Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed. He said, "Shah Rukh Khan should remember that majority population of the Country made him the Star, and if they boycott his films, he will also have to wander on streets. It is unfortunate SRK is speaking the same language that of Hafiz Saeed."
On 3 January 2016, a day after the terrorist attack on an Indian air force base in Pathankot allegedly by Pakistani terrorists, Adityanath said, "The Pathankot attack has once again proved that Satan could change for the better but Pakistan cannot".
Adityanath has praised the US President Donald Trump's decision to enact a ban on citizens from 7 Muslim-majority countries entering the United States and has called for India to adopt similar policies to tackle terrorism.
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