Backlash over visit of controversial Yogi Adityanath

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Yogi Adityanath is a polarising politician in India.

Yogi Adityanath is a polarising politician in India.

The arrival of indentured labourers in Mauritius will be celebrated during the public holiday on Thursday 2 November. Approximately half a million indentured labourers made their way to Mauritius over the course of a century, mostly to work in sugarcane plantations following the abolition of slavery. However, the celebration of that landmark moment in Mauritian history risks being plagued by disagreements over the presence of Yogi Adityanath, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and guest of honour for the celebration.

MP Shakeel Mohamed wrote to Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth in an official letter on Monday 30 October to object to the visit of Yogi Adityanath due to the number of controversies he’s been involved with. “Our republic should not allow such an individual together with his followers to come and disturb our way of life,” wrote Mohamed.

Over the last two decades, Yogi Adityanath has become one of the most polarising politicians in India. Primarily a priest promoting Hindu nationalism, he was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1994 and has served five consecutive terms since. He became chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in March this year. During those years in the limelight, he has made a number of widely condemned comments and has been linked to dozens of incidents pertaining to communal violence through the Hindu Yuva Vahini, an extremist militant youth group that he founded.

Among his most controversial statements are his comparison of popular actor Shah Rukh Khan and wanted terrorist Hafiz Saeed, his praise of US President Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban, and his take on religious conversion. “If one Hindu girl is converted, we will convert 100 Muslim girls,” he once said.

Yogi Adityanath was also criticised for his view on the Women’s Reservation Bill, which proposed to amend the constitution to reserve 33% of the Lok Sabha to women. “How does this affect their domestic responsibilities, like childcare? It should be assessed whether a women’s quota does not affect these roles,” he argued.

The initial guest of honour was expected to be Nitish Kumar, chief minister of Bihar, but since he could not make it, Yogi Adityanath was chosen as a replacement. Sources close to the government suggest that they had to welcome the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh given the amount of investment received from India and the balance of power in the diplomatic relationship between the two countries. 

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