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Yogi Adityanath

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Yogi Adityanath
योगी आदित्यनाथ
Yogi Adityanath
Yogi on stage along with several leaders including Narendra Modi
21st Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh
Assumed office
19 March 2017
Governor Ram Naik
Deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya
Dr. Dinesh Sharma
Preceded by Akhilesh Yadav
Member of the India Parliament
for Gorakhpur
Assumed office
Preceded by Mahant Avaidyanath
Personal details
Born Ajay Singh Bisht[1]
(1972-06-05) 5 June 1972 (age 44)
Panchur, Pauri Garhwal, Uttar Pradesh (now in Uttarakhand)
Political party Bharatiya Janata Party
Residence 5, Kalidas Marg, Lucknow
Education B.Sc. (Mathematics)
Alma mater H. N. B. Garhwal University
Occupation Politician
Religion Hinduism

Yogi Adityanath (born Ajay Singh Bisht;[1] 5 June 1972[2]) is an Indian priest and politician with an image as a Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) "firebrand".[3][4][5][6][7][8][9] He is the current Chief Minister of the state of Uttar Pradesh. He was appointed in March 2017 after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the 2017 state assembly elections, in which he was a prominent campaigner.[10][11][12] He has been the Member of Parliament from the Gorakhpur constituency, Uttar Pradesh for five consecutive terms since 1998.[13] Adityanath is also the Mahant or head priest of the Gorakhnath Math, a Hindu temple in Gorakhpur, a position he has held since the death of his spiritual "father", Mahant Avaidyanath, in September 2014. He is also the founder of the Hindu Yuva Vahini, an extremist[14] and militant youth organisation that has been involved in communal violence.[15][16][17][18][19][20]

Early life and education

Yogi Adityanath was born as Ajay Singh Bisht into a Garhwali Rajput family on 5 June 1972 in the village of Panchur, in Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand (formerly in Uttar Pradesh).[21][22][23] His father Anand Singh Bisht was a forest ranger.[24] He completed his bachelor's degree in Mathematics from the Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University in Uttarakhand.[25][26]

He left home around 1990s to join the Ayodhya Ram temple movement. He came under the influence of Mahant Avaidyanath, the chief priest of the Gorakhnath Math, and became his disciple. Subsequently, he was given the name 'Yogi Adityanath' and designated as the successor of the Mahant Avaidyanath. While based in Gorakhpur after his initiation, Adityanath has often visited his ancestral village, establishing a school there in 1998.[24]

Gorakhnath Math

Adityanath renounced his family at the age of 21 and became a disciple of Mahant Avaidyanath, then the head priest of Gorakhnath Math.[25] He was promoted to the rank of Mahant of Guru Gorakhnath Temple, following the death of Mahant Aavaidyanath on 12 September 2014. Yogi Adityanath was made Peethadhishwar of Gorakhnath Temple amid traditional rituals of the Nath sect on 14 September 2014.[27]


Scholar Christophe Jaffrelot states that Yogi Adityanath belongs to a specific tradition of Hindutva politics in Uttar Pradesh that can be traced back to the Mahant Digvijay Nath, who led the capture of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya for Hindus on 22 December 1949.[15][28] Both Digvijay Nath and his successor, Mahant Avaidyanath, belonged to the Hindu Mahasabha and were elected to the Parliament on that party's ticket. After the BJP and the Sangh Parivar joined the Ayodhya movement in the 1980s, the two strands of Hindu nationalism came together. Avaidyanath switched to the BJP in 1991, but nevertheless maintained significant autonomy. Yogi Adityanath was appointed Avaidyanath's successor as the Mahant of Gorakhnath Math in 1994. Four years later, he was elected to the Lower House of the Indian Parliament (the Lok Sabha).[15]

After his first electoral win, Adityanath started his own militant youth wing Hindu Yuva Vahini, which has been known for violent activities in the eastern Uttar Pradesh but was instrumental in Adityanath's meteoric rise. There have been recurrent tensions between Adityanath and the BJP leadership over the allocation of election tickets. However, the BJP has not let the tensions mount because Adityanath has served as a star campaigner for the party.[15][29][30]

Member of Parliament

Adityanath was the youngest member of the 12th Lok Sabha at 26. He has been elected to the Parliament from Gorakhpur for five consecutive terms (in 1998, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014 elections).[2][31]

Adityanath's attendance in Lok Sabha was 77% and he has asked 284 questions, participated in 56 debates and introduced three private member Bills in the 16th Lok Sabha.[32]

Relations with the BJP

Adityanath has had strained relations with the BJP for more than a decade.[33] He often derided and undermined the BJP, criticising its dilution of the Hindutva ideology.[34] Having established his own independent powerbase in Eastern Uttar Pradesh, with the support of the Hindu Yuva Vahini and the Gorakhnath Math, he felt confident to be able to dictate terms to the BJP. When his voice was not heard, he revolted by fielding candidates against the official BJP candidates. The most prominent example was the fielding of Radha Mohan Das Agarwal from Gorakhpur on a Hindu Mahasabha ticket in 2002, who then defeated BJP Cabinet minister, Shiv Pratap Shukla by a wide margin.[34] In 2007, Adityanath threatened to field 70 candidates for the state assembly against the BJP candidates. But he reached a compromise in the end.[35][36][37] In 2009 Parliamentary elections, Adityanath was rumoured to have campaigned against the BJP candidates who were then defeated.[34]

Despite his periodic revolts, Yogi Adityanath has been kept in good humour by the RSS and the BJP leaders. The deputy prime minister L. K. Advani, the RSS chief Rajendra Singh and the VHP chief Ashok Singhal have visited him in Gorakhpur. During 22–24 December 2006, Adityanath organised a three-day Virat Hindu Mahasammelan at Gorakhpur at the same time as the BJP National Executive Meet in Lucknow. Despite the conflict, several RSS and VHP leaders attended the Mahasammelan, which issued a commitment to pursue the Hindutva goals despite the BJP's claimed "abandonment" of them.[34][38]

In March 2010, Adityanath was one of the several BJP MPs who defied the party whip on the Women's Reservation Bill in the Parliament.[39][40]

Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh

He was a prominent campaigner for the BJP in the 2017 assembly elections in the state of Uttar Pradesh. He was appointed Chief Minister of the state on 19 March 2017 after the BJP won the assembly elections.[10][11][12] The illegal slaughterhouses in Uttar Pradesh faced shutdowns from the administration after his becoming the Chief Minister.[41] Yogi ordered the forming of anti-romeo squads which have found popularity among women in the state.[42] He imposed a blanket ban on cow-smuggling and stay on UPPSC results, exams and interviews till further order.[43] He imposed a ban on tobacco, pan and gutka in government offices across the state and made the officials pledge to devote 100 hours every year for the Swachh Bharat Mission.[44] More than 100 policemen were suspended by the Uttar Pradesh police.[45]

After becoming the CM of UP, he kept around 36 ministries to himself including Home, Housing, Town and country planning department, Revenue, Food and Civil Supplies, Food Security and drug administration, Economics and statistics, Mines and Minerals, Flood control, stamp and registry, prison, general administration, secretariat administration, vigilance, personnel and appointment, information, institutional finance, planning, estate department, urban land, UP state reorganisation committee, administration reforms, programme implementation, national integration, infrastructure, coordination, language, external aided project, Relief and Rehabilitation, Public Service Management, Rent Control, Consumer protection, weights and measures.[46][47]

In his first cabinet meeting held on 4 April 2017, decision was taken to waive off loans of nearly 87 lakh small and marginal farmers of Uttar Pradesh, amounting to 363.59 billion (US$5.6 billion).[48][49]


In 2005, Adityanath led a 'purification drive' which involved the conversion of Christians to Hinduism. In one such instance, 1,800 Christians were reportedly converted to Hinduism in the town of Etah in Uttar Pradesh. He said, "I will not stop till I turn UP and India into a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu state)."[50][51]

In January 2007, an altercation occurred amidst a Hindu group and Muslims during a Muharram procession in Gorakhpur which led to the hospitalisation of a young Hindu, Raj Kumar Agrahari. The District Magistrate made it clear that Adityanath should not visit the site as it may inflame tensions. He initially agreed but after Agrahari died, he disobeyed the magistrate and travelled to the site with a group of his followers. Adityanath started a non-violent dharna on the site. However inflammatory speeches were made and some of his followers set fire to a nearby mazar (Muslim mausoleum).[52][53] A curfew was implemented by the local police, but Adityanath broke it and was subsequently arrested and remanded for a fortnight, on charges of disturbing peace.[54][55] His arrest led to further unrest and several coaches of the Mumbai bound Mumbai-Gorakhpur Godan Express were burnt, allegedly by protesting Hindu Yuva Vahini activists.[56] The day after the arrest, the District Magistrate along with the local police chief, were transferred and replaced. This was "widely perceived" as a result of "Adityanath's clout" with the Uttar Pradesh government of Mulayam Singh Yadav.[52][55][57] The tensions soon escalated to riots across Gorakhpur leading to the burning of mosques, homes, buses and trains.[50][52] After his release, Adityanath protested his jailing in the Parliament.[58]

In 2010, when opposing the Women's Reservation Bill, Adityanath has said that reservation doesn't affect women's domestic responsibilities like childcare. He added: “If men develop feminine traits, they become gods, but if women develop masculine traits they become demons.”[39][59]

In 2011, the documentary film Saffron War - Radicalization of Hinduism accused Adityanath of promoting communal disharmony in Uttar Pradesh through hate speeches.[60][61] Adityanath shared the stage during a hate speech in which an unidentified speaker urged the Hindu audience to dig up the graves of Muslim women and rape the corpses. Recording of this event went viral on social media in March 2015.[62] In August 2014, political activist and lawyer Shehzaad Poonawala wrote to the National Commission for Minorities demanding that a police First Information Report be filed against Yogi Adityanath.[63]

In an undated video that surfaced on YouTube during August 2014, Adityanath, reportedly during a public speech at Azamgarh, referring to the religious conversions due to inter-religious marriages, has said, "if they take one Hindu girl, we will take 100 Muslims girls." In the same video, he continues to say, "if they kill one Hindu, there will be 100 that we" and pauses, as the gathered crowd shouts: "kill".[64][51][65]

In February 2015, while speaking at the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s ‘Virat Hindu Sammelan’, Adityanath said: "If given a chance, we will install statues of Goddess Gauri, Ganesh and Nandi" — Hindu deities — "in every mosque."[66][7][67][68]

In June 2015, Adityanath, while talking about Surya Namaskara, and Yoga has said, "those who want to avoid Yoga can leave Hindustan". He added, "my humble request to those who see communalism in even Sun God would be to drown themselves in the sea or live in a dark room for the rest of their lives.[69]

During the intolerance debate in the Indian media in late 2015, Adityanath commented that actor Shah Rukh Khan was using the same "language" as Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed.[70][71]

On 3 January 2016, a day after the terrorist attack on an Indian air force base in Pathankot allegedly by Pakistani terrorists, Adityanath compared Pakistan to Satan.[72]

Adityanath has praised the US President Donald Trump's decision to enact a ban on citizens from 7 Muslim-majority countries entering the United States and has called for India to adopt similar policies to tackle terrorism.[73]

See also


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External links

Lok Sabha
Preceded by
Mahant Avaidyanath
Member of Parliament
for Member for Gorakhpur

1998 – 2017
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Akhilesh Yadav
Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh
19 March 2017 – Present
Succeeded by