It’s been a tense month following the news about Donald’s Trump’s presidency in the USA, and what his new legislature will mean for India. But closer home jittery feelings are emerging about the newly elected chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath.
Since 1998, the senior BJP leader has been amassing followers in eastern UP, and today has the same effect on his constituency – Gorakhpur – as on the media outlets which fall over themselves to praise him.
His rhetoric, however, is not one of peace and teamwork. In fact, much of it can only be described as hate speech, criminalised under section 153(A) and 505(2) of the Indian Penal Code. Of course, with his clout, Adityanath can’t be touched. And now, as the leader of India’s most populous state, many are left wondering about the future. Because here’s what we known about him:
In 2014, emboldened by the saffron sweep at the centre, Yogi Adityanath threatened violence to the minority community. He said, “If the other side does not stay in peace, we will teach them how to stay in peace…in the language that they understand.”
He’s also made comments that come dangerously close to suggesting the Muslim population be minimised. It was on Aap Ki Adaalat that he said: “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.” (It certainly comes as news to us that in Hindu-majority India Hindus don’t have place.)
But this is nothing compared to his 2007 Azamgarh speech, where he cried out to the crowd “If they kill one Hindu, then we will kill 100 Muslims.”
Oh and here’s a bonus! For someone who argues against criticism of Hinduism, and Hindutva ideology, Adityanath has mocked other minority religions, like “Christ’s philosophy of offering another cheek if slapped on one.”
On The Buck Stops Here, senior journalist Barkha Dutt questioned him about the same Azamgarh speech, where he was seen saying “If they convert one Hindu girl, we will convert 100 Muslim girls!”
Because “claiming” a girl for your own community, as you would claim cattle or goods, is totally a great attitude to have. What’s clear from the interview is that he vilifies voluntary conversions to Islam, but champions forceful conversions to Hinduism.
And let’s not forget how he instructed his followers to marry Muslim girls, effectively shrinking the Muslim population. Totally not reminiscent of Hitler’s Germany at all. Nope.
But his blanket statements about women (regardless of community) are a point of concern too.
He recently said: “If men acquire women-like qualities, they become gods but when women acquire men like qualities, they become (‘rakshasa’) demon like.”
He also thinks the primary role of a woman is to be a wife or a mother, and is staunchly against “western feminism” because it will “hamper the creation and stability of the home and the family.”
As the CM, Adityanath has chosen three women for his cabinet, and is trying to put on a ‘pro-woman’ front. But his own words reveal that he’s anything but.
Not one to leave a minority unscathed, he has spoken in incredibly negative terms about people who experience same-sex attraction (“samlaingik”) in 2013.
It was the year the Supreme verdict on Section 377 came out, recriminalising homosexuality. In a video by News Desk India, Yogi Adityanath is seen responding with nothing but vitriol about LGBTQ Indians.
In the video, he vehemently opposes any form of acceptance towards the community, and advocates full denial of their constitutional rights. Further, he says “It’s severely immoral to use religious text as references with the false facts related to homosexuality.”
For the next five years, this is the man who will call the shots in Uttar Pradesh, a state with 38,483,967 Muslims, 95,331,831 women, and an uncounted population of trans and queer people. And things do not look good.