Controversial BJP MP Yogi Adityanath to be Star Campaigner in UP By-Elections

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Controversial BJP MP Yogi Adityanath to be Star Campaigner in UP By-Elections

File photo of Yogi Adityanath

New Delhi:  Yogi Adityanath, a controversial BJP lawmaker, will be one of the party's key campaigners for by-elections in Uttar Pradesh, in what is being seen as a major shift in political strategy.

Along with union minister Kalraj Mishra and the party's state unit chief Laxmikant Bajpayee, Yogi Adityanath will lead the campaign for the September 13 by-elections.

"We will campaign in UP...False cases have been registered against Hindus, they're being sent to jail, insulted. The SP is responsible for this," said Yogi Adityanath, seen as a polarising leader and one of the BJP's most hardline faces in UP.

Of the 11 seats where by-elections will be held, four are in western UP, which was torn apart by deadly riots in September last year and has been tense since. Political rivals see in Adityanath's appointment and in the change in the BJP's tenor in UP, an attempt to polarise voters ahead of the by-elections.

Yogi Adityanath is caught in the middle of a political storm after an undated video purportedly showing him making an incendiary speech surfaced. In the video he purportedly vows that for "every Hindu converted, 100 Muslim girls will be converted as retaliation," among other provocative comments.

The lawmaker, who recently opened a debate in Parliament on communal violence for his party, has described the video as a "cut and paste" job. In an interview to NDTV he also said, "We won't tolerate what's happening to Hindu women in the name of love jihad."

A recent BJP meeting in UP held to decide its political strategy, passed a resolution that did not use the term "love jihad" but amply alluded to the party's "concern" over what it calls the baiting of Hindu women by Muslim men into love and marriage to force them into religious conversion.

The BJP's Shahnawaz Hussain today defended the party's decision to field Yogi Adityanath in the UP campaign. "He is an experienced, trustworthy leader. The BJP has never been associated with communalism nor will it be. These are only false accusations," he said.


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