Ordered not to campaign for 72 hours by the Election Commission, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Tuesday headed to Lucknow’s famous Hanuman Setu temple.Adityanath, who is also the chief priest of Gorakhnath temple in eastern Uttar Pradesh, was at the temple for nearly 25 minutes where he recited Hanuman Chalisa.Refusing to take any questions from mediapersons, the BJP leader responded to queries and greetings with a smile.On Wedneday, Adityanath will head for Ayodhya where he will visit the makeshift Ram temple and Hanumangarahi.The Chief Minister courted controversy over his ‘Ali, Bajrang Bali’ remark, in apparent response to BSP chief Mayawati’s speech during an election rally. Mayawati, in her speech at a rally in Saharanpur’s Deoband on April 7, had appealed to Muslims to vote for the alliance and not divide their vote by supporting another political party.Two days later, according to the Election Commission, Yogi Adityanath told a rally in Meerut about Mayawati’s speech and said: “If the Congress, SP and BSP have faith in ‘Ali’, we have faith in ‘Bajrang Bali’, the followers of Bajrang Bali will not tolerate them.”This invited a 72-hour gag order for Adityanath and 48 hours for Mayawati. The ban on Uttar Pradesh CM is for a longer duration because this is his second code violation. The Election Commission noted that it had already advised the chief minister to be more careful about his public statements on 5 April after his controversial speech that allegedly politicised the army action.The commission also observed that Yogi Adityanath, as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, had the added responsibility to not only uphold basic tenets including secularism but also to display the same in his public statements and meetings.In his written response to the election commission notice, Adityanath said that he had used the term ‘green virus’ to expose the opposition who despite their secular posturing had made a blatantly crass appeal to Muslims to vote for the alliance.He also justified his Bajrang Bali remark saying lord Hanuman was his deity in whom he had immense faith.“He said he can’t leave his faith if anyone feels bad or insecure about his faith in Bajrang Bali for he worships the lord each morning and remembers him before undertaking any auspicious activity,” a senior officer from chief minister’s secretariat told HT.
Apr 16, 2019 14:05 IST