Yogi Adityanath is new UP CM: A peek into the Hindu hardliner's belief system
Yogi Adityanath, the new chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, is a man of many layers whose eccentric personality has made him a subject of intrigue.
Yogi Adityanath, the new chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, is a man of many layers. He is a Hindutva hardliner, whose eccentric personality has made him a subject of intrigue for the media. Adityanath, who is the founder of Hindu Yuva Vahini, a Hindu youth group, holds a BSc degree in mathematics. At the age of 21, he renounced his family to become a disciple of Mahant Avaidyanath, the then head priest of the Gorakhpur Mutt.
But why does the saffron clad five-term BJP MP from Gorakhpur make statements like "Jihad ka muqaabla keval dharam yudh kar sakta hai (only religious warfare can quell Jihad)”. The writings on Hindu Yuva Vahini's website reflect his undiplomatic, unabashed love for Hinduism, but only to those who understand Sanskritised Hindi.
An article on the website states that the Muslim League, that once opposed the Congress, had started supporting the party. The reason for this, as explained, was that Nehru used to deny being a Hindu. S Radhakrishnan, former President of India, used to say that Nehru is Brahmin by birth, European by education and Muslim by faith. Nehru, it is stated, was the reason why the term Hindu nationalism came into existence. It is believed that Nehru didn’t like leaders like Sardar Patel, PD Tandon and Rajendra Prasad because of their Hindu inkling. According to Patel, Nehru was a ‘Muslim nationalist’ and that is a hook that the website latches on to.
It goes on to add that Congress pumped in crores to increase the number Madrasas from hundreds to thousands across the country and that the teachings imparted in these religious centres of learning made children associate more with Arab countries than their own. Why was the district of Mallapuram in Kerala dedicated to Muslims, the site questions. Was it not communal to do that, it questions.
It should be noted that the Narendra Modi government has been championing the cause of ‘madrasa modernisation’ – a sum of Rs 100 crore was allocated towards this in the Union Budget of 2014. The NDA Government (1999-2004) had started a similar programme called Area Intensive Madrassa Modernisation Programmme (AIMMP), to make community better in terms of education, but over the years things haven’t quite changed. If the government has identified that the real problem is lack of quality education in the institutions that prepares the students for higher education and employment, then what is the point of hinting at indoctrination?
The site also asks if Gandhi rejected communal awards, set up by British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald on 16 August, 1932, to grant separate electorates in India for the Forward Caste, Lower Caste, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians, Europeans and Dalits, then why did the Congress commission the Rajinder Sachar Committee in 2005?
The report was the first of its kind to reveal the ‘backwardness’ of Indian Muslims. An issue highlighted was that while Muslims constitute 14 percent of the Indian population, they only comprise 2.5 percent of the Indian bureaucracy. The Sachar Committee concluded that the conditions facing Indian Muslims was below that of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The article finally equates the Congress with the Muslim League and says the former doesn’t work for Hindus.
In another piece of writing, they stress that culture is not synonymous with civilisation. According to the site, while the latter is behavioural, material and subject to change, the former is integral and it stands for a heritage that is 'ours'. A nationalism of culture is what his tribe is suggesting. However, if by culture what is meant is mythological epics and religious books, then shouldn’t it also be considered that the interpretation and rejection of such texts is what repeatedly bifurcates society into sub-cultures?
Not just cultural, but economic and geographic situations too create new castes and tribes, and gradually even these become old and set in their ways. By this theory, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism should reconsider themselves as offshoots and church and mosque goers, nothing more than converts; believers and non-believers must deny their individual history because it isn’t as old as the history of our combined culture.
The organisation believes that communists are against nationalism for they are uniting the workers of the world and they say that nationalism is integral to our life. They say that India already believes in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (a Sanskrit phrase found in Hindu texts such as the Maha Upanishad, which means the world is one family), so there isn’t any need for a Marx-inspired internationalism.
"Clear and simple it may seem, but even the concept of democracy can be classified as internationalism. Ideas like human rights, the relationship between civil society and political society, people’s movements, aren’t these tried and tested across the world? Can we single out communism as an alien idea that has no place in India and then accept others?" the Vahini states.
Love jihad is another topic of interest on this internet address. It says that those who embrace Islam are momins and those who are don’t are classified as kaafirs. It is, in their view, up to the momins to ensure those who are non-believers also accept the faith. In case, the non-believers don’t want to leave their creed, history and ancestral heritage, then the only option that the momins have left is to kill them.
‘So, you either become a believer or lose your life to a jihadi. Only in these two scenarios will the gates of jannat open up for you. Islam has been successful in doing this is other countries but despite ruling India for 800 years, its propagators haven’t been able to turn India into Iran and Iraq," the website states.
The Kerala High Court’s institutional cautiousness on the issue of love jihad, by asking the government to submit affidavits and records of such marriages, has been lauded by the Vahini. It is a belief held by the organisation that in the 21st century, the protectors of Islam are training Muslim boys to fall in love with Hindu girls in order to convert them, either to turn them into child-bearing machines, pack them off to brothels or sell them to Saudi sheikhs. Now the point is, if a court of law has sensed a problem and is investigating into it on the basis of evidence, then making an overarching conclusion about the reason by bashing a faith system is rather distasteful.
The Vahini states that Muslim organisations have a budget for love jihad and men who are successful in this operation are awarded. "Had the Sachar committee any idea about love jihad, it would have set aside a prize for the bravery of such men. The government considers love a personal matter and feels this is a step toward the improvement of minority-majority relations," it notes, saying that those who blindly praise Islam will also praise this exercise by comparing it to the bloody version of Jihad in Kashmir and call it a religion of great love and peace.
More than anything else, the existence of an organisation like Vahini points to the fact that this clash of ideologies is deeply embedded in history and is extremely organised. So, a critique also must be an informed one.
Back in June 2007, the Economic and Political Weekly published an article that takes the reader back to an incident that is an eye opener. A year after the BJP lost power at the Centre, the Sangh Parivar gave renewed notice of its intentions. On October 13, 2005, as Mau in eastern UP celebrated Dussehra, the traditional Bharat Milap – in which a Ramayan procession stops at the Shahi Katra Mosque and moves on after hitting its iron gates three times, coincided with Ramzan. That year, violence erupted and six people were killed and many were left injured. The media blamed Mau MLA and local strongman Mukthar Ansari for fuelling the violence. But, a Saajhi Duniya team, led by former Lucknow University vice-chancellor Roop Rekha Verma and journalist-activist Nasiruddin Haider Khan, which visited the area afterwards, pointed out that the Hindu Yuva Vahini and Adityanath, played a key role in the riots.
In the report, they wrote, "The picture presented by most of the media, that the aggressors were mainly Muslims, and mainly Hindus were the sufferers is not correct. Muslims have heavily suffered in terms of life and property. The role of Hindu Yuva Vahini and Hindu Mahasabha has been almost missing in the media whereas they played (a) crucial role in the beginning of the riots and in worsening the situation. The statements of exaggerated and exclusive losses of Hindus, by some BJP leaders and leaders of Hindu Yuva Vahini like Adityanath have been partial and provocative."
Uttar Pradesh is the fourth largest state in India and according to the 2001 census, 18 percent of its population is Muslim. A constitutional insertion of Adityanath’s radical school of thought to the helm of the state’s machinery is a cause for concern. In transparency, the Indian parliamentary system may be like the internet, but unlike the former, the latter does not function like an anarchy, it has provisions for making interventions and a structure to put laws in place.
By nature, morality is a subjective idea, so any debate on ideological grounds must also be fought with facts, research and statistics and from within the system. This piece attempts to understand the inner workings of Adityanath, through an analysis of his organisation.
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