Why Yogi Adityanath doesn’t fit into traditional binaries of secular or communal

Since a few days a large bunch of the eminent leftist Lutyens mediapersons and politicians are busy painting Yogi Adityanath as some monstrous beast whose only purpose is to devour the whole of Uttar Pradesh in some sort of a communal fireball. We already busted a lie which was being spread by these people to create fear among the minorities in the country.

Having said that, it would be wrong to suggest that all of Yogi Adityanath’s controversial statements have been invented by his detractors. Though there’s nothing wrong with it, his wearing saffron robes also contributes a lot towards him getting associated with Hindutva. Media reports suggest that there are quite a few such statements he has uttered like:

  • His desire to turn the whole of UP and India into a Hindu Rashtra
  • His proclamation on Love Jihad that if 1 Hindu Girl is converted 100 Muslim girls would be converted in return
  • Those who wish to avoid Yoga and Lord Shankar can leave Hindustan
  • I think there is no difference between the language of Shah Rukh Khan

So if one only considers the above statements or others which we didn’t include, Yogi Adityanath can easily be cast into the communal mould of being a hardcore Hindutva leader and that would be the end of the story.

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Well there’s a twist. Here are a few instances, if taken exclusively would portray Yogi in a completely different light:

  • If one ventures into the Gorkhanath Math in Gorakhpur where Yogi is the head priest, a completely different picture emerges. The man who has supervised all the construction work inside the temple for 35 years is a Muslim named Yasin Ansari. He spoke about how he freely enters Yogi’s living quarters and also shares meals with him. He also mentioned how Yogi had always participated in all of his family functions. Some of the shops in the temple precinct are also run by Muslims and one of the owners outright stated that he has never faced any discrimination.
  • The cow shelter in the Math has about 500 cows and one of the volunteers who takes care of it is Man Mohammed. Now 30, he has served in the Gaushala since he was 10 years old. He speaks about the love and respect he has received from Yogi and stated that Yogi stood for everyone irrespective of their religious identity. Man also mentioned how all the medical bills of his ailing father are also borne by Yogi.
  • Once Yogi had even solved a dispute which had arisen when people had encroached upon a land belonging to a mosque said one Chaudhary Kaiful Waraq.

On social media, Tanvir Salim, a columnist and resident of Gorakhpur, too portrayed a very “secular” image of Yogi Adityanath:

So is Yogi just one of those politicians who make “communal” statements and act “secular”? If that was true then one of the first decisions of his government would not have been to close illegal slaughterhouses.

So what’s the story? Who exactly is Yogi. As Yasin Ansari put it, ‘Yogi isn’t against Muslims, he is against those who praise another country and live here’. And as this report stated Yogi’s followers claim that he is actually opposed to Wahabi Islam one of the most hard-line sects of Islam which is believe to be behind the rise of global terrorism.

The chief lesson which emerges from this story is that Yogi or anyone else cannot be stereotyped into singular binary perceptions which unfairly simplify someone’s character or motives. Maybe Yogi is just an ordinary human being with a bundle of contradictions like everyone else.

Just as every aspect has another story to it, in Yogi Adityanath’s case there are plenty…

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