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Indians shocked at nomination of Yogi Adityanath

20 March, 2017

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Many Indians are shocked at the nomination of Hindutva hardliner Yogi Adityanath as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP). The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its followers, unsurprisingly, support Adityanath's choice. The BJP spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh said, "That image (of a saffron icon) may be with media, but he has been elected again and again. He stands for development, and that is the agenda we have got." Despite his rhetoric attacking Muslims, another Muslim minister in the Modi government, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, also defended Modi's choice, saying Adityanath would work for the party's agenda of "inclusive growth".

Opposition parties have, however, voiced their disapproval--some with caution, others more vociferously--of the BJP decision. Congress leader Veerappa Moily dismissed it as the "biggest assault" on secularism. "Maybe, the Bharatiya Janata Party or RSS would like to endorse their cause of Hinduism. India is not Hinduism," sad Moily. Meanwhile, Communist Party of India leader, Brinda Karat, termed the selection as a part of the "RSS agenda". She questioned, "Several charges like rioting and more serious offences exist against him in various courts in UP...Then why this rhetoric of ending criminalisation?"

Both Janata Dal (United) and Jammu & Kashmir National Conference also heavily censured BJP for their choice. Conference leader, Omar Abdullah, tweeted, "Can spokespersons of BJP now put to rest their oft-repeated assertion that RSS is only a social organisation?"

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader, Asaduddin Owaisi, seemed least surprised by the decision, calling Adityanath's elevation as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh a part of Narendra Modi's vision of a "new India". Nevertheless, official statements from Congress and Samajwadi Party did not outrightly condemn Adityanath's selection as both parties wished to observe his performance for "people's interests" before opposing him.

Indian print and electronic media outlets gave a mixed response to the choice. Some publications criticized the choice by running special features, highlighting the past statements of Adityanath while other resorted to highlighting Modi's faith in him.

Hindustan Times and India Today highlighted most controversial statements targeting the minorities and the firebrand politics of Adityanath, while Times of India took a more cautious approach and highlighted the career and achievements of Adityanath.

Perhaps the most heated conversation took place on social media platforms. With Adityanath's name trending on Twitter, many users shared their happiness on the microblogging site; predicting that their dream of Ram Temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya will be fulfilled.

There were many who lamented his controversial politics for adversely impacting Muslim population in the state. Others took comfort in black humour, posting ironic messages to voice their shock.

Taking jibes at the criminal cases pending against him, Twitterati spoke out against the ease with which India had started accepting hate speech. Then again, some even suggested that there could be more controversial appointments to come.

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