Priest-turned-politician Yogi Adityanath was on Sunday sworn in as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister. The 44-year-old five-term MP from Gorakhpur was unanimously elected by the BJP legislature party leader at a meeting of the newly elected MLAs. State BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya and Lucknow Mayor Dinesh Sharma were also sworn in as deputy Chief Ministers.
The oath taking ceremony took place at Kanshiram Smriti Upvan where Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah were also present.
There is challenge ahead for CM Adityanath, as per the Constitution, the state government can have a ministry size not exceeding 15 per cent of the size of the assembly. This means that the Yogi Adityanath government can appoint 13 more ministers since 47 has already been appointed as ministers. This means that the Yogi has some elbow room to accommodate egos of some key people. But with 312 BJP MLAs in the new UP assembly and 13 more from allies, the Yogi has a lot to consider.
The choice as Uttar Pradesh chief minister of Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand Hindu ascetic with a history of agitation against minority Muslims, stunned observers who said it marked a departure from the platform of development for all on which Modi rose to national power in 2014.
A spokesman for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) however said the government did not make any distinction between citizens on the basis of religion.
Adityanath, 44, was elected by state lawmakers on Saturday, a week after the BJP won a landslide victory in India’s most populous state by mobilising the Hindu vote. The BJP won the biggest majority for any party in the state legislature in 40 years.
The swearing-in ceremony was the culmination of a seven-phased Assembly poll spread over two months in the huge state, which resulted in no less than a landslide victory for the BJP, which won 312 of the 403 Assembly seats. The BJP didn’t name a chief ministerial candidate all through the campaigning, or even until 24 hours ago.
Before Adityanath, Kalyan Singh, Ram Prakash Gupta and Rajnath Singh of BJP had served as UP chief minister. Kalyan Singh, now Rajasthan governor, held the high office twice.
Like him, C B Gupta, Charan Singh, N D Tewari, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati too have served as chief minister more than once.
Mayawati has the distinction of holding the post four times, while Mulayam was CM thrice. Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav have to their credit having completed a full five-year term.
The BSP supremo has also served the shortest term of four months when she first took over the reins in 1995.
In the Congress era of 1960s and 70s, the state had witnessed stalwarts of the likes of G B Pant, Sampuranand, C B Gupta, Sucheta Kriplani, T N Singh, Kamalapati Tripathi, Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna, V P Singh, Sripati Misra and Vir Bahadur Singh holding the high office.