New Delhi: Yogi Adityanath, the new chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, and his rise within Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has received the attention of the international media. His controversial statements, particularly his speeches against the Muslim community, praise for US President Donald Trump’s travel ban, and vision of a Hindu rashtra, have gained press coverage.
Not only the foreign press has raised eyebrows over the elevation of the controversial Hindutva hardliner, but some of the reactions have also questioned PM Modi’s pro-development agenda .
Here are some of those reactions by the international media on Yogi Adityanath:
■ The New York Times: “The choice of Yogi Adityanath—who has been repeatedly accused of stirring anti-Muslim sentiments—to lead Uttar Pradesh, came as a shock to many political observers here, who have become accustomed to the carefully moderated public positions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in line with his projected image as a pro-development leader and global statesman.”
■ The Guardian: “The argument that once in power the BJP would become more reasonable does not wash. There’s little sign India’s constitutional protections would enable the BJP to continue in power while the dynamics of its wider movement are kept in check. Mr Adityanath, now a powerful figure, is signalling that in India minorities exist merely on the goodwill of the majority. ”
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■ The Economist: “The unusual choice has raised alarms, not least among Uttar Pradesh’s 40m-strong Muslim minority; the BJP won 312 of 403 seats in the state legislature without fielding a single Muslim candidate. Mr Adityanath, who has a long record of bigoted and inflammatory rhetoric, has named just one Muslim to his 43-person cabinet. Some analysts say Mr Modi chose a controversial sectarian as reward for his most ideological followers’ crucial grassroots help in the voting. Others say that with his prospects for re-election in 2019 strengthened by winning a state with 220m people, Mr Modi simply has less fear of revealing a darker Hindu-nationalist tint.”
■ Channel News Asia: “A saffron-robed Hindu holy man was sworn in on Sunday to lead India’s most populous state, sealing what appears to be a shift in course by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that could redefine the world’s largest democracy as a Hindu nation.”
■ Dawn: In a state with nearly four crore Muslims, where the BJP decided to field not even a single candidate from the minority community in the election, the chief minister-designate could be seen as adding insult to injury, because, more than anything else, he is known for his strident anti-Muslim rhetoric. Over the years, Adityanath has established himself as the foremost firebrand Hindutva leader.