In light of BJP’s win in Uttar Pradesh and the selection of Yogi Adityanath as its chief minister, an editorial in the Guardian titled ‘The Guardian view on a key poll: victory for anti-Muslim bigotry’ argues that religion is playing a role in the country’s regression. It describes Adityanath as an “anti-Muslim extremist” and now a “powerful figure”, and says his previous statements against minorities — ‘If [Muslims] kill one Hindu man, then we will kill 100 Muslim men’ for instance’ — can’t be dismissed as mere rhetoric.
Adityanath, who has been repeatedly “contemptuous of democratic norms” — he’s accused of attempted murder, criminal intimidation and rioting — is “signalling that in India minorities exist merely on the goodwill of the majority. Step out of line and there will be blood.” The Guardian added that for the 140 million Muslims in the country, the election of Adityanath is enough to debate withdrawing from public life.
According to the column, the BJP is skilled in “producing a circus to divert attention from how poorly the country is doing”. It cites the example of demonetisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “key-anti corruption reform”, which cost the economy an estimated $14 billion according to experts. This money, The Guardian argues, could have been spent providing electricity to half of households that don’t have it, or tackling the highest infant mortality rate in India.
Uttar Pradesh, with a population of over 200 million, is a significant state in the country as it sends 80 MPs to the 545-member Parliament.
The New York Times, in a recent article, described Adityanath as a “firebrand Hindu cleric”, in its piece ‘Firebrand Hindu Cleric Yogi Adityanath Picked as Uttar Pradesh Minister’. It added that the BJP’s choice is “a turning point for a government that has, until now, steered clear of openly embracing far-right Hindu causes.”