It was a surprise move. On March 19, 2017, just eight days after being elected to power in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP named Yogi Adityanath, the MP from Gorakhpur and Mahant of Gorakhnath Temple, as Chief Minister.
Since then, Adityanath has emerged as the leader and face of the BJP in UP, whose presence is sought after in elections from Bengal to Kerala. Now, with less than a year to go for the next state elections, the UP Chief Minister will be the chief guest at the Express e-Adda on Thursday.
Known to be a leader who does not hesitate to speak his mind, Adityanath has taken several tough decisions during his tenure at the helm, often drawing flak from the Opposition and triggering controversies.
They include the closure of illegal slaughter houses, setting up of “anti-romeo” squads, condoning a series of encounters of criminals and the green signal for laws such as The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Act, 2020, and Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Property Act, 2020. Under the Property Act, several people were given recovery notices for alleged damage caused to public property during anti-CAA protests.
However, Adityanath has stuck to his ground, maintaining that he and his government knows how to respond to people in the language that they understand.
Recently, the UP government faced flak for the gaps in infrastructure and preparation in tackling the second Covid wave, with Adityanath himself testing positive. But in his typical combative manner, the Chief Minister travelled across the state, after recovery, meeting people to convey how UP has been able to control the spread and intensity of the infection faster than any other state or country with similar population numbers.
Hailing from a village in Uttarakhand, Adityanath left home in his early 20s to join the Ram Temple movement in Ayodhya, and soon became not just a disciple of Gorakhnath Math Mahant Avaidyanath but his successor. He became one of the youngest MPs in 1998 at the age of 26 and went on to win the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha for four more terms until he had to leave his seat to become Chief Minister.
At the e-Adda, Adityanath will be in conversation with Anant Goenka, Executive Director, The Indian Express, and Ravish Tiwari, Political Editor and Chief of National Bureau, The Indian Express. The Express Adda is a series of informal interactions organised by The Indian Express Group and features those at the centre of change.
Union External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways and MSMEs Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Education Ramesh Pokhriyal, AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria, and former Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian were guests at the E-Adda, as these discussions moved online during the pandemic.
Among prominent guests at past editions of Express Adda have been Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Nobel laureates Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, Chief Economic Advisor Krishnamurthy Subramanian, cancer specialist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Dr Siddhartha Mukherjee, and cricketer Cheteshwar Pujara.