Wednesday, July 12, 2017

"Firebrand Hindu Cleric Ascends India’s Political Ladder"

A Hindu warrior-priest has been chosen to rule India’s most populous state, and the cable news channels cannot get enough of him. Yogi, as everyone calls him, is so ascetic and incorruptible that he doesn’t use air-conditioners, they say. Yogi sleeps on a hard mattress on the floor. Yogi sometimes eats only an apple for dinner.

But the taproot of Yogi Adityanath’s popularity is in a more ominous place. As leader of a temple known for its militant Hindu supremacist tradition, he built an army of youths intent on avenging historic wrongs by Muslims, whom he has called “a crop of two-legged animals that has to be stopped.” At one rally he cried out, “We are all preparing for religious war!”

Adityanath (pronounced Ah-DIT-ya-nath) was an astonishing choice by Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, who came into office three years ago promising to usher India into a new age of development and economic growth, and playing down any far-right Hindu agenda.