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Controversial Hindu priest chosen as Uttar Pradesh chief minister

20 March 2017, 06:06 | Taylor George

Yogi Adityanath during the oath-taking ceremony in Lucknow

Yogi Adityanath

Trivendra Rawat will be sworn-in as the eighth Chief Minister of the hill state today.

The BJP has deeply disappointed the moderates among its followers by declaring its Hindutva mascot Yogi Adityanath as the Uttar Pradesh chief minister. At one rally Adityanath vowed, "If one Hindu girl marries a Muslim man, then we will take 100 Muslim girls in return". After taking oath of office, Adityanath said that he will work to eradicate "goondaraj" from the state and take forward PM Narendra Modi " s mission of "sabka sath, sabka vikas'.

Outgoing chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and his father and Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav also attended Adityanath's coronation. It seems now that the BJP government in UP will go ahead with further communalization and consolidation of expanded Hindutva constituency before the 2019 general elections, besides peppering it with development of most backward UP with one-sixth of population and nearly one-fifth of Lok Sabha seats.

In the just-concluded assembly elections, the BJP stormed to power in Uttar Pradesh, securing a three-fourth majority and demolishing rivals SP-Congress and BSP.

Yet he agreed to the appointment of Adityanath probably, it is being widely suggested, under pressure from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP's extreme right wing umbrella organization, to which he and Adityanath, and the two deputy chief ministers, have allegiance. A commerce professor in the University of Lucknow, he is known for developing good relations with political opponents and others including the Muslim community. By the same token, however, misgovernance in UP could cost BJP nationally.

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As well, the temple's security apparatus has also been strengthened after Yogi Adityanath's swearing-in. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its followers, unsurprisingly, support Adityanath's choice.

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It can be further argued that past experience shows how development models can be projected as successful even when they are fundamentally premised on excluding minorities on multiple levels - economic, political, cultural and social.

The Union minister had said that Adityanath will care for all sections of people and will prove critics wrong.

Yogi Adityanath is 44 years old and his real name is Ajay Singh Bisht.

State party chief Keshav Prasad Maurya, considered a front runner for the post, has been named deputy chief minister along with Dinesh Sharma, the party's national vice-president and Lucknow's mayor.

In a front-page story Sunday, the Times of India called the selection of the "saffron hardliner" a "defiant assertion" of the party's Hindu nationalist credentials. He studied under the chief priest of Gorakhpur's Gorakhnath Temple, Mahant Avaidyanath, who was also a four-time parliamentarian.



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