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For Uttar Pradesh CM Adityanath, Fight for Ram Mandir May be a Personal One

Newly appointed Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has at times had a strained relationship with the Sangh Parivar.

Uday Singh Rana | @UdaySRana

Updated:March 21, 2017, 6:44 PM IST
For Uttar Pradesh CM Adityanath, Fight for Ram Mandir May be a Personal One
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Yogi Adityanath (Centre) is offered sweets after he was elected as Chief Minister of India’s most populous state - Uttar Pradesh, during the party lawmakers' meeting in Lucknow on March 18, 2017. (REUTERS/Pawan Kumar)

New Delhi: Newly appointed Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has at times had a strained relationship with the Sangh Parivar. He has always been a man who has marched to his own tune. It is on the issue of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, however, that his views more or less align with that of the RSS. But for Adityanath, the fight for a Mandir may be a personal one. For him, it is a struggle that can be traced all the way back to 1949, much before LK Advani embarked on his Ram Rath Yatra.

In 1935, Mahant Digvijaynath was appointed as the head of the Gorakhnath Math in Gorakhpur, a post that Adityanath now holds. While Digvijaynath died in 1969, three years before Adityanath was even born, the UP CM seems to have modeled himself after the former Mahant.

Like Adityanath, Digvijaynath was a rebel. Even as the Mahant, he remained a part of active politics. Digvijaynath, earlier a Congressman, joined the VD Savarkar-led Hindu Mahasabha.

Like Adityanath, he came to be known for his vitriolic statements against Muslims, even demanding that they be stripped off the right to vote till they “proved their loyalty to India”. It was during his time that the Gorakhnath Math, once venerated by Hindus and Muslims alike, assumed a decidedly Hindu nationalist character. However, it was his involvement with the Ram Mandir agitation of 1949 that made him shoot into prominence.

Digvijaynath played a leading role in the temple movement. It is said that he was behind the placement of Ram and Sita idols inside the Babri Masjid, though Hindu hardliners had claimed the idols had “appeared” inside the mosque. After the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, he was jailed for nine months. Upon his release from prison, he attempted to revive the Hindu Mahasabha.

In 1967, he was elected as the MP from Gorakhpur, a seat which would eventually send Adityanath to the Lok Sabha five times before his elevation to the CM post.

His disciple and successor Avaidyanath, who was Adityanath’s spiritual Guru, maintained the political character of the Gorakhnath Math. When the Ram Temple struggle was revived in the 1980s, Avaidyanath became a prominent leader of the movement. In 1984, much before BJP leader LK Advani embarked on his infamous Ram Rath Yatra, Avaidyanath launched a Yatra of his own from Bihar’s Sitamarhi to Ayodhya. Avaidyanath entered politics like his Guru had done before him and his disciple would do after him. He became the MLA from Maniram seven times and MP from Gorakhpur two times.

As Yogi Adityanath settles into the Chief Minister’s office, the Ram Mandir issue will be among the foremost on his agenda. This is not only because he has cultivated a support base that would expect him to deliver on the promise, but also because for him, it is a matter of legacy as well.

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