Yesterday BJP announced the name of new Chief Minister for UP after its famous landslide victory in the assembly election concluded last week. While the new CM Yogi Adityanath is very well known in UP, people in rest of the India know him only through controversial statements highlighted by media time and again. After Modi government has taken over in May 2014, media has been highlighting any statement they thought would show BJP in poor light. Yogi’s statements about Kairana and Mother Teresa were widely criticized by media and left liberal intelligentsia in past. While most of the time the statements were not as wrong as they were portrayed to be, it projected Yogi as a hardline aggressive saffron leader who probably best epitomized all that is wrong with Right wing in India. However, when one looks at Yogi’s track record as a five times MP, it shows a different picture. In the sixteenth Loksabha itself he has asked 283 questions in various fields like finance, planning, law and order etc. He is a science graduate with major in Mathematics and has left his family to give his life for religion and society. So, who is real Yogi Adityanath, the hardline Hindu bigot or a saint with pure intentions of serving society, religion and nation?
To get the answer we will need to first understand the Sect he represents, Sect of Natha. Amongst many ascetic traditions in India, the Sect of Nathas is one of most ancient and most remarkable. The order was established by famous Yoga Guru Matsyendranath, about one thousand years back, but the principles on which it based trace their origin in far remote past. The origin of the principles of Yoga are supposed to trace back to Adinath Shiva, the first Yogi. The principles are supposed to come down from Shankar to Vishnu and then through various ascetics to Mastyendranath. As per Natha tradition in Deccan, the Natha yogis got the knowledge of Yoga from Dattatraya who is supposed to be incarnation of Trimurti (Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh). There are famous Nav-nathas (9 saints) and numerous ascetic in the order. Some of the most famous names are Gorakhnath in north, Jnyaneshwar and Nivruttinath in Deccan. Jnyaneshwar wrote the famous commentary on Geeta and was one of pillars of Yoga traditions down south in Deccan. In north Gorakhnath strengthened Natha order and the city of Gorakhpur takes name from him. Similarly, there are many saints in the order who established Mathas and Peethas across India. The Natha order has been responsible for preserving the Hindu traditions of Yoga and preservation of Hindu culture when it faced toughest challenges in medieval times. The strong appeal of this order has been due to its denial of any caste barrier and its social work for masses. Yogi Adityanath is one of the saints in this order and is Mahant of Gorakhnath matha in Gorakhpur.
Yogi, born as Ajay Singh Bisht in Garhwal region of Himachal Pradesh is a BSC Mathematics. He left home after college and joined Natha Sect. As per tradition of the sect he left worldly life after performing his own last rites considering end of his past life. There are anecdotal references which say that Yogi does not keep much contact with his family members and considers them as any other human being on earth. Yogi’s political career started with Ramjanam Bhoomi movement led by then Mahant Digvijay Nath. Later Mahant Advaitnath led the movement. Yogi became youngest MP of 12th Loksabha from Gorakhpur at the age of 26.
As a five-time MP Adityanath is known for helping people in his constituency irrespective of religion. One such example is a fare called “Khichadi ka mela” which is organized in the Gorakhnath temple premises. The fair usually has more than 90% of shops set up by Muslims. In fact, there is a large Muslim population residing around Gorakhnath temple without fear. Aditynath’s work has been winning elections for him with higher margins every election than the previous one for last 5 general elections. He has been instrumental in helping eradicate the gang-wars and contract wars in Gorakhpur in last decade or so. When a favorable government got installed in center, he was able to also bring in FCI revival plans and AIMS for Gorakhpur. He is known for his personal honesty and complete intolerance of corruption. He is also known to be a hardworking man who works round the clock.
To be honest however, there are many criminal cases filed against him although none of them have been proved in court. There have been charges on successive state governments in UP that Yogi is being harassed with fake cases using state machinery. In 2007 Yogi demanded protection from lower house of parliament against alleged harassment from UP police. While raising this question he famously broke down in parliament too. While we don’t know if the allegations against police are true or not but knowing the way UP politics works it is not impossible.
Yogi has been known for being ruthlessly honest in expressing his opinion and a bit aggressive in his stance too but neither did he cross legal boundaries nor party line ever in his statements. Given the expertise of our media many of his statements have been twisted and presented in a particular way to embarrass Modi government. Not only most have been proved to be twisted, in some cases they have been proved to be outright a false propaganda. One such example is an oft-repeated allegation that Yogi called for raping dead bodies of Muslim females. This statement was attributed to him and went unchallenged for quite some time before someone pointed out that it was not him who made that statement with a video proof.
It is easy to paint a saint in saffron as Hindu hardliner and start hating him. However, people should watch his performance as UP CM and not judge him by color of his clothes.
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