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HomeNationBJP Star Campaigner Yogi Adityanath Forced to Cancel Rally

BJP Star Campaigner Yogi Adityanath Forced to Cancel Rally

Yogi Adityanath, the BJP’s controversial star campaigner in Uttar Pradesh, has been refused permission by the state government for an election rally in Lucknow that was meant to be held at 7 pm today.

Adityanath, a 42-year old lawmaker from Uttar Pradesh, was asked yesterday by the Election Commission to explain alleged hate remarks made by him while asking voters to support the BJP in Saturday’s by-elections to nine assembly seats and one parliamentary constituency. In the national election in May, the BJP swept the state, landing 71 of the 80 parliamentary seats.

That astounding result, according to critics, was accomplished by the BJP’s Amit Shah, through a strategy pivoted on stirring communal tensions for electoral advantage. Mr Shah, a top aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and now the BJP president, has denied those charges.

In September last year, nearly 60 people were killed and 40,000 displaced after deadly Hindu-Muslim riots in western Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar, just a four-hour drive from Delhi. Investigations found politicians across parties, including some from the BJP, had fuelled the violence with incendiary speeches and public meetings. Adityanath, a senior priest, who has been given the lead role in the BJP’s campaign has suggested that a recent undated video that appeared online and shows him making hate remarks against Muslims may have been doctored. He said the video appeared to be of a speech he made in Uttar Pradesh in 2007.

Mr Modi largely avoided the topic of religion during his campaign; in his Independence Day speech, he called for an end to communal violence, which he said was stunting growth.

But in Uttar Pradesh, where his party hopes to form the state government when elections are held in 2017, senior BJP leaders have been trying to polarize voters through a campaign that alleges “love jihad” – a term used by right-wing groups for what they describe as an Islamist strategy to convert Hindu women through seduction, marriage and money.

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