From a maths scholar to a sanyasi to Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Mahant Yogi Aditya Nath has come a long way.
Hindutva poster boy Yogi Aditya Nath, 44, took oath as the new chief minister of Uttar Pradesh on Sunday (Mar 19) at Kanshiram Smriti Upvan in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and other prominent party leaders.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators on Saturday (Mar 18) unanimously elected the Gorakhpur MP for the top post in the state.
Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya and Lucknow Mayor Dinesh Sharma took oath as new Deputy Chief Ministers.
Here are 10 facts you should know about Yogi Aditya Nath:
1. Yogi Aditya Nath was born Ajay Singh Bisht in a Garhwali Rajput family at Panchur village in Uttarakhand’s Pauri Garhwal district on June 5, 1972.
2. He completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University in Srinagar, Uttarakhand (formerly in Uttar Pradesh).
3. At the age of 21, Yogi Aditya Nath left his home to participate in the Ayodhya Ram temple movement.
4. It was around that time that he met Mahant Avaidyanath, chief priest of the Gorakhnath Math. Yogi Aditya Nath was so influenced by him that he became his disciple.
He was given the name ‘Yogi Aditya Nath’ during his initiation and despite being a non-Brahmin, was declared the successor of Mahant Avaidyanath.
5. In 1991, Yogi Avaidyanath joined the BJP.
6. He was elected to the Lok Sabha from Gorakhpur for the first time in 1998. At the age of 26, he was the youngest MP of the 12th Lok Sabha.
7. So far, Yogi Avaidyanath has won five consecutive terms from Gorakhpur Lok Sabha constituency – in 1998, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014.
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8. Yogi Aditya Nath started his own “youth wing” called Hindu Yuva Vahini, which has been accused of provoking communal tensions especially in Purvanchal region in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
The organization is also accused of inflaming the Hindu-Muslim riots during the Dussehra in Mau, Uttar Pradesh in 2005.
9. Yogi Aditya Nath, who was BJP’s star campaigner in the recently-held assembly elections, is known for his controversial speeches.
For example, in 2005, he said on record that he will not stop until he converts India, along with Uttar Pradesh into a “Hindu Rashtra” (Hindu nation).
Another example, in 2015, during a debate on intolerance, he compared Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) co-founder Hafiz Saeed.
10. He had a strained relationship with the BJP for over a decade that normalized only after the intervention of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parent body of the party.
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.