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Mar 18, 2017 07:59 PM IST | Source:

Hindutva mascot, magnet for controversies: Meet new UP CM Yogi Adityanath

From 'love jihad' to hate speeches to criminal cases pending against him, Yogi Adityanath is not one to stay out of the limelight.

The Bharatiya Janata Party sprung a surprise on Saturday, naming firebrand Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath as the 32nd Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.

Adityanath and his cabinet of ministers will be sworn in at a grand ceremony in Lucknow on Sunday evening.

Despite keeping a relatively low-profile following the election victory, Adityanath is not one to stay out of the limelight and was a controversial and prominent face during the election campaign in Uttar Pradesh and emerged as the BJP’s power-centre in Poorvanchal.

The 44-year-old Adityanath, a five-time Member of Parliament from Gorakhpur who was first elected aged 26, is a mascot of the BJP's Hindutva-cloaked agenda of development. He is a strong advocate of the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya and his surging popularity has seen his margin of victory increasing with every re-election.

In contrast to his fiery speeches, Adityanath was reserved after the BJP's massive victory last week. "There was resounding support from people that they will vote for a government that does not represent any caste or religion," he said.

Born Ajay Singh, he received a BSc degree before becoming a sanyasi and changing his name to Yogi Adityanath.

He has made a name for himself in recent times with his strong speeches both inside and outside Parliament. Adityanath is also the founder of the Hindu Yuva Vahini, a social, cultural and nationalist group of young people that has many Dalit Hindus in its ranks.

Adityanath has several criminal cases, including ones related to murder and rioting, pending against him.

He has also attracted controversies in the recent past. During the election campaign, he lauded United States President Donald Trump’s immigration ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations and said that similar action was needed to curb terror activities in India.

In 2015, he compared Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan to

Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed during the controversy over intolerance, and also asked those who don't practise Surya Namaskar to leave India.

In 2014, he made two controversial speeches. The first involved 'love jihad' where he exhorted Hindu men to marry 100 Muslim women if one Hindu woman was forcibly converted.

A few weeks later, he blamed the communal tensions in Uttar Pradesh on the rise in numbers of the minority community.
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