Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is known for making controversial statements.
Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath has spent at least 20 days of the last one month away from his state, and with good reason. BJP leaders say he ranks second only to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in terms of star quality in the ongoing election campaigns across Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, with his firebrand Hindutva ideals, political novelty value and crowd-rousing abilities making him a veritable darling of the masses.
The controversial priest-cum-politician has participated in as many as 26 rallies across the three states over the last one month. He addressed six rallies in Chhattisgarh before heading off to attend nine in Madhya Pradesh, later following it up with 11 public meetings in Rajasthan. Mr Adityanath intends to wind up his work there on December 1, after which he will campaign for a day in Telangana.
If the BJP leadership wanted the Hindu hardliner to rouse voter sentiment ahead of the election, he has not disappointed. At a rally in Madhya Pradesh's Bhopal two days ago, Mr Adityanath took a jibe at Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kamal Nath's purported claim that his party needs the votes of 90% Muslims in the state. "The Congress needs only Muslim votes. Kamla Nathji, keep your Ali. Bajrang Bali is enough for us," he said.
"The Congress used to play divisive politics, which was why terrorism peaked during its rule. But you can see that terrorists who were once fed biryani by the Congress are now being given bullets to eat by us," he said at another rally in Rajasthan's Makrana. Alt News, a fake news-busting website, termed it as a falsified claim.
Mr Adityanath's statements have also ruffled feathers in Telangana, where he is scheduled to campaign next. "The UP chief minister has crossed all limits of propriety and constitutional values. People say I give polarising speeches, but has anyone even reacted to his speeches?" asked All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav alleged that Uttar Pradesh's government machinery has collapsed in the absence of Mr Adityanath. "Is this an example of Ram Rajya?" he asked.