Yogi Adityanath, the “mahant” (head priest) of the Goraknath math, currently chief minister of India’s most populous state Uttar Pradesh, has a reputation of being a man who is happy doing the “wet works” of Hindutva.

Adityanath is widely considered the true successor of the “Hindu Hridaya Samrat” (Emperor of the Hindu Heart) Narendra Modi as he is nearly 20 years younger than him.

The parallels are considerable. Modi presided over the 2002 riots in Gujarat and was acerbic in his Muslim baiting speeches. He occasionally lapses into this baiting even when on the campaign trail as prime minister.

Adityanath is widely considered the true successor of the ‘Hindu Hridaya Samrat’ (Emperor of the Hindu Heart) Narendra Modi

Yogi, a five-term Member of Parliament from Gorakhpur, has zero administrative experience, but has serious cases of riots against him. He also has a history of mauling Muslims in his speeches. And, he was anointed chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.

Yogi has bizarre priorities. Consider some. As chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, he has changed the name of Allahabad to Prayagraj. Yogi set up the oddly-named Romeo squads to prevent what he calls “love jihad” which gave a licence to vigilantes to attack inter-faith couples.

Yogi withdrew licences to all abattoirs operating in Uttar Pradesh. Cow welfare clearly preoccupies him more than the people of Uttar Pradesh. Cow vigilantes run amok. The latest is the murder of a policeman by a mob of cow terrorists.

Yet, Yogi is the star campaigner of project Hindutva as he has been campaigning for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in all state elections where he makes strange promises such as renaming Hyderabad. Yogi has said the elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, Mizoram and Telangana are a contest between “Ali and Bajrangbali”. Can’t get more dog whistle than that.

Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath with artistes dressed up as Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshman during Deepotsav celebrations in Ayodhya on Wednesday.

So clearly, Adityanath’s priorities after becoming chief minister remained what they were. He has been accused on numerous occasions of inflammatory hate speech. In May this year, Adityanath’s government denied permission to try him in the 2007 Gorakhpur riots cases.

Adityanath has several criminal cases against him, including rioting, attempt to murder, being armed with a deadly weapon, trespassing on burial places and criminal intimidation. He was arrested for inciting the Gorakhpur rioters in 2007. See what I meant about Yogi enthusiastically getting his hands dirty in the “wet works” of Hindutva.

Yogi has a private vigilante army aptly called the Hindu Yuva Vahini. The HYV bunch of hooligans ride around in cars in eastern Uttar Pradesh sans number plates with Yogi emblazoned in place of the plate. Adityanath’s HYV in 2015 embarked on a mission to declare the cow as “rashtra mata” (mother of the nation).

The Hindu Yuva Vahini recently announced a bounty of rupees one crore on Congress politician Navjot Singh Sidhu’s head. His crime – he insulted Yogi saying he was no “yogi but a bhogi” (worldly).
– Swati Chaturvedi

Besides his love for cows, Yogi has been pictured many times with his pet monkey. Says a BJP leader sardonically: “Yogi clearly prefers animals to humans.”

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had a huge role in making him chief minister as they shot down Modi nominee Manoj Sinha. Yogi has run what local BJP leaders themselves describe as “Thakur Raj” (rule of the lords) showing an inordinate fondness for his own clan. His secretariat is filled with Thakur officials yet corruption and sloth in Uttar Pradesh, one of India’s most backward states, has grown unabated. Even in his own constituency, a record number of little children died of Japanese encephalitis.

If you thought this was bad enough gentle reader, I have mined though some of Yogi’s essays to paint you a portrait of the mahant’s mind. Yogi has written expansively on many issues such as gender equality.

Consider one Yogi essay. He warns in his essay on “the inherent dangers in making women like men”. He quotes texts to say “if men acquire women-like qualities they become God but, when women acquire men-like qualities they become “rakshas” (demons)”. Serious thought must be given to these issues, writes Adityanath.

Moradabad: UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath addressing at a function in Moradabad on Sunday.

Wonder what will happen to the women who have crossed the line and work in Uttar Pradesh’s administration? Or the nominal women Adityanath has appointed to his Cabinet? Adityanath, is perhaps echoing Modi who came up with “despite being a woman” to describe Bangladesh’s Prime Minister, Shaikh Hasina, on June 9, 2015.

Yogi abhors feminism and makes no bones about it. He writes “else the thoughtless storm of women’s freedom of the western world will drive them to an even more disastrous condition and it will hamper the creation and stability of the home and family. It will prevent the glorious rebuilding of the nation and motherland”.

Well that’s pretty clear ladies. If you leave aside the open feral Muslim-baiting speeches, Adityanath is hardly a reassuring figure for Uttar Pradesh’s women or Christians either.

Yogi is universally addressed as “maharaj” across Uttar Pradesh even by “journalists”. A senior Uttar Pradesh politician, part of the original Mandir movement, says: “The mahant Yogi expects unquestioned obedience. He thinks administration is like that. It is not and his officials are running rings around him.”

This story first appeared in Gulf News on December 09, 2019 here.