Yogi Adityanath, In Kerala For BJP Yatra, Raises 'Love Jihad': 10 Facts
Yogi Adityanath, the BJP's Hindutva face and an aggressive orator, is expected to sharpen the attack as part of the Jana Raksha yatra. The saffron-robed Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh landed at Keecheri and began his slow march, wearing a cap in his party's colours.
Yogi Adityanath landed at Keecheri in Kerala's Kannur and began his yatra on foot.
Kannur, Kerala: Yogi Adityanath, surrounded by a sea of supporters, today joined the BJP's 15-day relay walk or padyatra launched in Kerala by party chief Amit Shah. Mr Shah launched the Jan Raksha (protect people) yatra yesterday in Kannur, the home base of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, to highlight what the BJP says is the ruling CPM's "murder politics". Yogi Adityanath, the BJP's Hindutva mascot, focused on what he called "jihadi terror" and also raised "love jihad". Two more chief ministers, Devendra Fadnavis and Manohar Parrikar, are expected to take the baton as the BJP calls in the cavalry in Kerala, a state it has never won.
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"The BJP yatra is to generate awareness on the violence and killings of political workers and those of our ideology. This yatra is a mirror to the governments of Kerala, Tripura and West Bengal to repent and put an end to the killing of innocent people," Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, said, adding, "The government has created an environment of Jihadi terror here."
Speaking to reporters, he also accused the Left-led government of not taking steps to check a "dangerous trend like love jihad". He was responding to questions in an ongoing case in the Supreme Court involving a Hindu woman who converted to Islam before marrying a Muslim.
In the next few days, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Goa's Manohar Parrikar are expected to head to Kerala. So are union ministers Nirmala Sitaraman, Dharmendra Pradhan and VK Singh.
The yatra, which will see top BJP leaders relay-walk across the state towards capital Thiruvananthapuram, aims at bringing the party to the mainstream in Kerala, where the Left and the Congress have traditionally played lead roles.
The BJP's "Chalo Kerala" mission reflects its need to establish its presence in the state in the 2019 general election. In last year's assembly elections, the BJP had won a single seat. It has never won a Parliament seat.
Mr Shah is focusing on five states where the BJP had never been in power. Yogi Adityanath represents the party's biggest success - Uttar Pradesh - where it posted its most spectacular performance in recent elections.
The Left accuses the BJP of an insidious strategy in bringing Yogi Adityanath to a state where Hindutva politics has never taken centre-stage.
"Their relay race is a race of violence, of terror, of intimidation, of bullying because these are all encounter specialists," senior CPM leader Brinda Karat said on Yogi Adityanath.
Since May 2016, when the Left won the assembly elections, there have been eight political murders in Kannur - three were activists of the CPM and five of the BJP.
Statistics with the state crime records bureau say that since 1991, 45 workers of the CPM, 44 of the BJP, four of the Muslim League and 15 of the Congress have been killed in Kannur.