Modi’s party picks the controversial Yogi Adityanath as leader of Uttar Pradesh.

Indian politics took a surprising turn electing controversial Hindu priest as Chief Minister of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, roughly the size of Brazil. His appointment has shocked Indians because he is a well-known Indian nationalist and fundamentalist notorious for instigating communal tensions in Uttar Pradesh.

The recent election in Uttar Pradesh was a crucial one for the nation’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), headed by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. The state was once the seat of the opposing Congress party, and a victory in that state has signaled an unrivaled rule by the BJP.

Despite this, the selection of Yogi Adityanath has surprised even members of the BJP itself. Adityanath has been known to call for a complete elimination of Muslims in India and vowed all mosques in the country would be adorned with images of Hindu deities. He had even once promised for every Hindu killed, 100 Muslims would lose their lives. The priest has often been arrested for his inflammatory speeches, and for communal crimes. He was also responsible for a number of riots between Hindus and Muslims in Uttar Pradesh.

While critics slammed this move of the Government, claiming this was going to spell disaster for non-Hindus, supporters of the BJP believe that putting him in a position of responsibility would ensure that he would behave more responsibly. The saffron-clad Chief Minister has previously been elected to the Parliament five times and is not new to politics.

The BJP is seen as a nationalist party that has a fundamentalist Hindu agenda. Although Hindus, in general, are moderate and have nothing to do with the few miscreants who try to spread violence between Hindus and minorities, the BJP gained popularity because of its promises of development and progress. The party took advantage of the previously ruling Congress party’s rampant corruption and promised a corruption-free India to the voters.

With Adityanath’s appointment, however, the old fears that the BJP is pro ‘Hindutva’ has once again come back on the scene.

Refuting claims of the decision’s communal basis, BJP Spokesperson Nalin Kohli said that BJP’S agenda has always been the betterment of everybody and the progress of the nation as a whole. Ironically, not a single Muslim made it to the government of Uttar Pradesh despite forming 19 percent of the state’s population.

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