The author offers a painstaking defence of Adityanath’s role in controversial ‘Love Jihad’ and Hindu Yuva Vahini campaigns.

The mainstream media portrayed Yogi Adityanath as a hard-line Hindu leader until he became the fourteenth Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. That changed overnight, when the media began glorifying him as an able and tough administrator that a lawless UP desperately needed.

Shantanu Gupta, the author of the new book The Monk Who Became Chief Minister, gives the reader a detailed account of Adityanath in which he weighs the BJP leader’s firebrand image against his record as a parliamentarian and administrator.

The book largely seems to be an exercise in veneration, as the author offers a painstaking defence of Adityanath’s role in controversial ‘Love Jihad’ and Hindu Yuva Vahini campaigns. It praises him for injecting discipline into Lucknow’s bureaucracy, waiving farm loans and cracking down on crime.

But the narrative loses steam when it comes to the so-called love jihad issue. Instead of a nuanced analysis, we encounter a mere reproduction of accusations. The book quotes Oommen Chandy, Kerala chief minister, saying 2195 Hindu women converted to Islam between 2009-12. But the book fails to point out how many of them were coerced.

The author points to a Kerala High Court order to investigate love jihad, but conveniently forgets to mention that the police in Kerala and Karnataka dismissed the phenomenon in 2009.

In the book, Adityanath, born Ajay Singh Bisht, emerges as a larger-than-life figure destined to become a leader of masses. Bisht was inspired by spiritual and nationalist personalities from around his ancestral village, writes Gupta.

The author also cites an incident from the chief minister’s college days when he decided to help some women students board a bus. “Young Ajay stood in front of a bus forcing it to stop…” the author writes.  This incident is cited as proof of Adityanath’s valour and respect for women.

The book does start on a promising note, but fails to give an objective portrayal of the leader.

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