He left his home around the 1990s to join the Ayodhya Ram temple movement. Around that time, he also became a disciple of Mahant Avaidyanath, the chief of the Gorakhnath Math. Upon taking diksha as sanyasi of the Nath tradition, he was given the name 'Yogi Adityanath' and designated as the successor of the Mahant Avaidyanath. While based in Gorakhpur after his initiation, Adityanath has often visited his ancestral village, establishing a school there in 1998.
Adityanath renounced his family in 1993, at the age of 21 and became a disciple of Mahant Avaidyanath, the then high priest of Gorakhnath Math. He was promoted to the rank of Mahant or high priest of the Gorakhnath Math after the death of his teacher Mahant Aavaidyanath on 12 September 2014. Yogi Adityanath was made Peethadhishwar (Head Seer) of the Math amid traditional rituals of the Nath sect on 14 September 2014.
Early political career
Scholar Christophe Jaffrelot states that Yogi Adityanath belongs to a specific tradition of Hindutva politics in Uttar Pradesh that can be traced back to the Mahant Digvijay Nath, who led the capture of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya for Hindus on 22 December 1949. Both Digvijay Nath and his successor, Mahant Avaidyanath, belonged to the Hindu Mahasabha and were elected to the Parliament on that party's ticket. After the BJP and the Sangh Parivar joined the Ayodhya movement in the 1980s, the two strands of Hindu nationalism came together. Avaidyanath switched to the BJP in 1991, but nevertheless maintained significant autonomy. Yogi Adityanath was appointed Avaidyanath's successor as the Mahant of Gorakhnath Math in 1994. Four years later, he was elected to the Lower House of the Indian Parliament (the Lok Sabha).
After his first electoral win, Adityanath started his own youth wing Hindu Yuva Vahini, which has been known for their activities in the eastern Uttar Pradesh and was instrumental in Adityanath's meteoric rise. There have been recurrent tensions between Adityanath and the BJP leadership over the allocation of election tickets. However, the BJP has not let the tensions mount because Adityanath has served as a star campaigner for the party.
In 2006, he took up links between Nepali Maoists and Indian Leftist parties as key campaign issue and encouraged Madhesi leaders to oppose Maoism in Nepal. In 2008, his convoy was reportedly attacked while en route to Azamgarh for an anti-terrorism rally. The attack left one person dead and at least six persons injured.
Member of Parliament
Adityanath was the youngest member of the 12th Lok Sabha at 26. He has been elected to the Parliament from Gorakhpur for five consecutive terms (in 1998, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014 elections).
Adityanath's attendance in Lok Sabha was 77% and he has asked 284 questions, participated in 56 debates and introduced three private member Bills in the 16th Lok Sabha.
Relations with the BJP
Adityanath has had strained relations with the BJP for more than a decade.
He often derided and undermined the BJP, criticising its dilution of the Hindutva ideology.
Having established his own independent power base in Eastern Uttar Pradesh, with the support of the Hindu Yuva Vahini and the Gorakhnath Math, he felt confident to be able to dictate terms to the BJP. When his voice was not heard, he revolted by fielding candidates against the official BJP candidates. The most prominent example was the fielding of Radha Mohan Das Agarwal from Gorakhpur on a Hindu Mahasabha ticket in 2002, who then defeated BJP Cabinet minister, Shiv Pratap Shukla by a wide margin. In 2007, Adityanath threatened to field 70 candidates for the state assembly against the BJP candidates. But he reached a compromise in the end.
In 2009 Parliamentary elections, Adityanath was rumoured to have campaigned against the BJP candidates who were then defeated.
Despite his periodic revolts, Yogi Adityanath has been kept in good humour by the RSS and the BJP leaders. The deputy prime minister L. K. Advani, the RSS chief Rajendra Singh and the VHP chief Ashok Singhal have visited him in Gorakhpur. During 22–24 December 2006, Adityanath organised a three-day Virat Hindu Mahasammelan at Gorakhpur at the same time as the BJP National Executive Meet in Lucknow. Despite the conflict, several RSS and VHP leaders attended the Mahasammelan, which issued a commitment to pursue the Hindutva goals despite the BJP's claimed "abandonment" of them.
After becoming the CM of UP, he kept around 36 ministries under his direct control, including Home, Housing, Town and country planning department, Revenue, Food and Civil Supplies, Food Security and drug administration, Economics and statistics, Mines and Minerals, Flood control, Stamp and registry, Prison, General administration, Secretariat administration, Vigilance, Personnel and appointment, Information, Institutional finance, Planning, Estate department, Urban land, UP state reorganisation committee, Administration reforms, Programme implementation, National integration, Infrastructure, Coordination, Language, External aided project, Relief and Rehabilitation, Public Service Management, Rent Control, Consumer protection and Weights and measures.
In his first cabinet meeting, held on 4 April 2017, the decision was taken to forgive loans to nearly 87 lakh (8,700,000) small and marginal farmers of Uttar Pradesh, amounting to ₹363.59 billion (US$4.8 billion). For India's Independence Day celebrations in 2017, his government singled out Muslim religious schools, requiring them to provide video evidence that their students had sung the Indian national anthem.
In July 2018, Adityanath, along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Moon Jae-in, president of South Korea, inaugurated the world's largest smartphone manufacturing factory in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. His government was credited for making 50 megawatts of power and a 22-km-long electricity line in a record four months for the Samsung mobile plant.
The New York Times relayed analysts' estimations of Adityanath as a candidate for Prime Minister of India in 2024, provided he "delivers on some fronts". In August 2020, India Today's "Mood of the nation" survey showed Adityanath as the best-performing chief minister in India.
In July 2021, Adityanath introduced the UP population control draft bill 2021–2030. On the event of World Population Day, the chief minister unveiled the policy on reducing the population growth for the forthcoming years. There were also several benefits announced based on the laid single child and two-child policies. He said The state population policy focused on efforts to increase the accessibility of contraceptive measures issued under the Family Planning Programme and provide a proper system for safe abortion. This policy also received lots of reactions and criticisms from other political parties. It was said that this policy mainly focused on the upcoming general elections in the state. The opposition Congress in the state has called it a "political agenda" and the Samajwadi Party said it is "murder of democracy".
In January 2007, Adityanath with other BJP leaders had gathered to mourn the death of a man who was killed because of religious violence. He and his supporters were subsequently arrested by the police and lodged in Gorkhapur jail on the charges of disturbing peace and violating prohibitory orders. His arrest led to further unrest during which several coaches of the Mumbai bound Mumbai-Gorakhpur Godan Express were burnt, allegedly by protesting Hindu Yuva Vahini activists. The day after the arrest, the District Magistrate and the local police chief were transferred and replaced.
In 2011, the documentary film Saffron War – Radicalization of Hinduism accused Adityanath of promoting communal disharmony in Uttar Pradesh through hate speech.
In 2017, his government ordered withdrawal of around 20,000 "politically motivated" cases, including those against himself and other politicians.
In 2010, when opposing the Women's Reservation Bill, Adityanath said that reservation doesn't affect women's domestic responsibilities such as childcare. He added that if men develop feminine traits they become gods, but if women develop masculine traits they become demons.
In an undated video that surfaced on YouTube during August 2014, Adityanath, reportedly during a public speech at Azamgarh, referring to the religious conversions due to inter-religious marriages, has said, "if they take one Hindu girl, we will take 100 Muslims girls." In the same video, he continues by saying, "if they kill one Hindu, there will be 100 that we" and pauses, as the gathered crowd shouts: "kill".
In February 2015, while speaking at the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s ‘Virat Hindu Sammelan’, Adityanath commented: "If given a chance, we will install statues of Goddess Gauri, Ganesh and Nandi " — Hindu deities — "in every mosque."
In June 2015, Adityanath, while talking about Surya Namaskara, and Yoga said that those who want to avoid Yoga can leave Hindustan. He "requested" those who see communalism in the Sun God to "drown themselves in the sea" or live in a dark room for the rest of their lives.
During the intolerance debate in the Indian media in late 2015, Adityanath commented that actor Shah Rukh Khan was using the same "language" as Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed.
Books by Yogi Adityanath
Haṭhayoga svarūpa evam sādhanā, Gorakhapura : Śrī Gorakshanātha Mandira, 2007, 148 p. On Hatha yoga.
Preceded byMahant Avaidyanath
Member of Parliamentfor Gorakhpur 1998–2017
Succeeded byPraveen Kumar Nishad
Preceded byAkhilesh Yadav
Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh 19 March 2017 – Present
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