Priest-turned politician and controversial mascot of hardline Hindutva, Yogi Adityanath was on Sunday sworn in as the 21st chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and the fourth from the saffron party, ending its 15-year hiatus.
BJP state unit chief Keshav Prasad Maurya and party’s national vice president Dinesh Sharma were sworn in as cabinet ministers by Governor Ram Naik at a grand ceremony at Kanshiram Smriti Upvan in Lucknow.
They will assist 44-year-old Adityanath as deputy chief ministers.
Interestingly, none of the three is a legislator in UP.
The five-term MP from Gorakhpur, who lacks administrative experience, was yesterday unanimously elected the BJP legislature party leader at a meeting of the newly elected MLAs, in a move that took many by surprise.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP chief Amit Shah and party veteran L K Advani were present at the ceremony, which was also attended by outgoing chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav. Several BJP chief ministers also attended the function.
The elevation of Adityanath, who has chequered rapport with the BJP leadership, has left many puzzled, with political circles abuzz with talk of the RSS having prevailed over the party in deciding the chief minister.
Often caught in controversy because of his speeches, Adityanath, who heads the Gorakhnath Mutt, allegedly led a “purification” drive for conversion of Christians to Hinduism in 2005.
In 2015, he reportedly said those who oppose yoga can leave India and that they should all be drowned.
He was arrested for allegedly inciting Gorakhpur riots in 2007.
Adityanath, who has been accused by opposition parties of being a divisive political figure, enjoys considerable popularity in the state and is known to make provocative statements, be it about Islam or Pakistan.
He had said on Saturday he would follow Modi’s slogan “sab ka saath, sab ka vikas” and ensure all round development of the country’s most populous state.
“I am confident that the state will march on the path of development,” he had said in his first brief media interaction at the Raj Bhawan.He had also said his efforts would be to provide “good governance” in the state.
The governor also administered oath of office and secrecy to 22 cabinet ministers.
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.
Of them, C B Gupta became chief minister three times.
Charan Singh, Ram Naresh Yadav and Banarsi Das served as non-Congress chief ministers with Yadav and Das holding reins of the state during the Janata Party rule.
Charan Singh, who served as CM twice, represented Bhartiya Kranti Dal.