In his first television interview since he was sworn-in as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh last month, Yogi Adityanath said that there is nothing wrong with the concept of a Hindu rashtra.
Adityanath, widely regarded as a Hindutva hardliner, was unanimously chosen to be the CM after the Bharatiya Janata Party pulled off a landslide win in the country's most populous state. While speaking to Doordarshan on Wednesday, the 44-year-old priest-politician cited the 1995 Supreme Court judgment which defined Hindutva as "a way of life." "These words (Hindutva and Hinduism) are used in a speech to emphasise the way of life of the Indian people and the Indian cultural ethos," the apex court has previously said.
The chief minister told DD, "I want to state something very clearly. The concept of the Hindu Rashtra is not wrong. A full bench of the Supreme Court has given a specific decision on this....It is a way of life."
"If that rashtra (nation), or raasta (path), helps improve people's way of life, then we should not hesitate in adopting it," he said.
Last year, the Supreme Court decided that it would not reexamine its 1995 verdict on Hindutva. Earlier this year, the apex court said that political candidates could not seek votes on the basis of religion, caste or language.
Leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh have come out in support of Adityanath's remarks.
RSS leader Rakesh Sinha told ANI, "There can be a new mode of worship and that mode of worship cannot disconnect disown, deride, the pre-religious status of a culture, history, intellectual legacy of a nation. The Hindu rashtra is a secular, democratic and an inclusive concept."
State BJP general secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak told the Hindustan Times, "For far too long we have been pseudo-seculars who frowned upon anything that is Hindu. What's wrong in the CM's statement? He said that he would follow the path of peace and progress. Hinduism has always stood for peace."
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