LUCKNOW: Since the BJP announced Yogi Adityanath as the new CM of Uttar Pradesh, people from the state and across India are curious to know about his personal life, especially the controversies that surrounds him.

Following the death of his spiritual father Mahant Avaidyanath in September 2014, he was appointed as the Mahant (head priest) of the Gorakhnath Math, a Hindu temple in Gorakhpur. Adityanath was born in a Rajput family and named Ajay Singh Bisht. He has Bachelor’s Degree in Science from Uttarakhand.

A saffron clad priest has several criminal cases against him. He is the founder of the Hindu Yuva Vahini which has a great impact across Gorakhpur.

Yogi Adityanath had accused Mother Teresa of a conspiracy for Christianisation of India and led a ‘purification drive’ in 2005 which involved the conversion of Christians to Hinduism. “I will not stop till I turn UP and India into a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu state) he had said then.

In 2007 he was arrested and remanded for a fortnight on the charges of rioting. His arrest resulted in the burning of mosques, homes buses, and trains. He further protested his arrest in the parliament.

In the documentary film Saffron war- Radicalization of Hinduism, Adityanath was shown promoting communal disharmony through a Virat Hindustan rally in rural Uttar Pradesh, where in a hate speech along with his party, he urged the Hindu audience to dig up the graves of the Muslim women and rape the corpses. The recording went viral on social media in 2015.

Similarly, in an undated video on YouTube, he is shown making a public speech, “if they take one Hindu girl, we will take 100 Muslims girls and if they kill one Hindu, there will be 100 that we will kill” referring to the religious conversations due to interreligious marriages.

He even holds very conflicting views on women and women empowerment which he has expressed in his blog posts. He advocates respect for woman and acknowledges their contribution to the society, on the other hand, he talks about showing women their space and the dangers they pose to society and men in general. He even has a negative opinion on homosexuality.

In 2015, Yogi Adityanath asks yoga opposers to leave India and drown themselves in the sea or live in a dark room for the rest of their lives.

After the terrorist attack on an Indian air force base in Pathankot in 2016, he accused Pakistan saying “The Pathankot attack has once again proved that Satan could change for the better but Pakistan cannot”. He also compared actor Shah Rukh Khan to Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed during the intolerance debate in the Indian media.

The yogi was all praises about US President Donald Trump‘s decision enacting a ban on citizens from Muslim majority countries entering the United States suggesting India adopt the similar practice to tackle terrorism.

– Bandana Singh, Correspondent (Asia: South)