29 March 2022
Amendra K Singh
The Western media has, almost without exception, painted India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (‘BJP’) as a Hindu extremist party.
An increasingly common tactic of Western media is to use persons of Indian appearance, or with Hindu-sounding names, to write disparaging articles on India, Hindus and the BJP.
Modi drapes his hand over the shoulder of Yogi during the UP election campaign
These scribes are contemptuously referred to by many non-Anglicised Indians as brown sepoys.
Brown sepoys almost invariably have a contempt for their own culture and civilisation; and/or make a living out of peddling vile against India and Hindus.
The latest hit-job by the Western media has been by the Australian tax-payer funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Avani Dias and Som Patidar have written an article, published on 10 March 2022, headed ‘How a Hindu warrior priest, whose fans include Craig Kelly, is climbing India's political ranks.’
The article has two principal themes:
a) That the BJP, and Yogi Adityanath’s (‘Yogi’) BJP led government in Uttar Pradesh (‘UP’), are hard-line Hindu extremists; and
b) That Muslims are being persecuted in India and particularly in UP.
There is no original investigative research in the article. It does not appear that the authors have interviewed anyone. Rather, the article appears to have selectively cut and pasted random quotes from various sources, freely available on the internet, to support its themes.
The piece contains no interviews with Yogi, any of his Ministers, any parliamentarians, party officials or party workers.
It also contains no objective content about Yogi or any insight into why UPites returned Yogi to power for a record second term.
It is a disgrace that Australian tax-payer dollars are being used to fund what is essentially propaganda masquerading as journalism.
I will now explain in detail why I have arrived at the view that I have.
What the article misses
Firstly, the article is notable more for what it omits to say about Yogi’s government, than what it says about it.
I spoke to several Hindi language journalists who traveled through UP during the elections. I also viewed more than 20 videos (in Hindi and English) and numerous articles about the UP election campaign and its results. Links to some of those can be found below.
The overwhelming consensus among Indian journalists across the board was that Yogi won primarily because of a combination of the following reasons:
A phenomenal improvement in law and order (‘criminal gangs have been neutralized’; ‘Our wives and daughters can now walk on the streets at night without fear’).
There have been no communal riots.
The Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Ann Yojana which provided free rations during the Covid pandemic to every poor household with basic necessities such as grains, pulses and cooking oil. The UP government claims this reached 150 million people.
The state government complementing the Central government’s scheme of providing housing for the poor. The BJP claims that under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, 4.2 million houses have been built, while under the Mukhyamantri Awas Yojana, over 100,000 houses were built.
Implementing schemes to bring and supply electricity to each village; and provide free electricity to the poor.
Implementing schemes to bring tap water into each village.
Implementing schemes to bring toilets into each house.
Implementing the ujjwala scheme that provides free gas cylinders (and regulators) to every low-income household. The BJP claims that 16.7 million have benefitted under this scheme.
Implementation of direct cash transfers into the bank accounts of the poor.
Making speedy payments at record prices to sugarcane and other farmers.
Providing direct payments to other farmers for items such as fertilizers.
Incentives for education.
Incentives for marriage of girls.
UP having the highest number of tests and vaccinations; and being among those with the lowest positivity rates during the Covid epidemic. The UP government claims that it has administered the COVID-19 vaccine to 90 million people.
The Yogi government ranks number 1 in implementing 44 central government schemes.
Yogi is incorruptible.
Yogi works long hours every day without a holiday.
A broad cross-section of voters, cutting across caste, social/economic status and regions, voted for the BJP and its allies.
I could find no policy or scheme of the Yogi government (or the Modi-led Central government) discriminating against Muslims or other minorities.
The ABC article would have you believe that the only reason Yogi won is because the Hindu voter has suddenly become a Hindu supremacist.
A summary of some of the schemes implemented by the UP government can be found here:
Content of the article
Secondly, I fact-checked the assertions in the article by referring to relevant books, articles, videos and speeches.
Yogi addresses an election rally in UP
In the table below, I set out the results of my fact-checking:
The headline describes Yogi as ‘…a Hindu warrior priest…’
The article provides no evidence that Yogi is a ‘Hindu warrior priest…’
There is no evidence that Yogi is a ‘warrior’ priest.
The headline is simply a subtle tactic to portray Yogi as prone to violence or encouraging violence.
‘A Hindu supremacist monk…’
The article provides no evidence that Yogi is a ‘Hindu supremacist…’
I have listened to numerous parliamentary speeches of Yogi, many media interviews and dozens of his speeches at political rallies. In no speech has Yogi ever expressed himself to be a Hindu supremacist.
Yogi ‘…has a history of making divisive comments about Muslim people.’
The overwhelming content of Yogi’s speeches has been to highlight improvements in law and order, showcase the achievements of his government in developing UP and explaining the various schemes of the government for the poorest in UP.
Note: Yogi’s speeches are in Hindi. Brown sepoys either do not understand India’s indigenous languages or frown upon them as inferior.
Yogi …’is the head of a Hindu temple known for its hardline traditions.’
Yogi is the Mahant of Gorakhnath Math. The history and activities of the Math are documented in publications such as Shantanu Gupta’s The Monk who became Chief Minister.”
I could not find any evidence of the Math having ‘hardline traditions’ in all the research that I have conducted.
‘He's also built a youth group aimed at getting revenge on "historic wrongs" by Muslim rulers.’
Yogi was the head of the Hindu Yuva Vahini.
In all the research I have conducted, I could find no evidence that the Vahini was built with the aim of getting revenge on historic wrongs by Muslim rulers.
‘Researchers have said his political rise represents a worrying trend of a new and assertive brand of Hindu nationalism leading to Muslim persecution in the world's largest democracy’
No researcher has been identified.
No evidence is provided as to how Muslims are being persecuted.
Hindu nationalism…has led to violent and sometimes deadly clashes between Hindus and Muslims.
Yogi asserted in February 2022 that there have been ‘zero’ communal rights in UP since he became CM in 2017 (https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/elections/assembly-elections/uttar-pradesh/zero-communal-riots-in-uttar-pradesh-since-2017-says-cm-yogi-adityanath/articleshow/89329842.cms).
I have not seen any counter to this assertion.
The article’s claim that Hindu nationalism is responsible for clashes between Hindus and Muslims does not have substance.
Young Muslims are protesting about the threat to India’s secular core
‘Yogi often makes controversial and misleading comments’
There is no evidentiary basis for this assertion.
Yogi has been a Member of Parliament for more than 23 years. He has given hundreds of speeches and interviews.
What Yogi has “often’’ commented about is the needs and aspirations of his constituency and sab ka saath, sab ka vikaas (together with everyone, development for everyone).
“Yogi has even taken aim at Mother Teresa.”
Brown sepoys have no qualms about (unfairly) besmirching the reputation of a Hindu monk. But Mother Teresa must be above criticism. Perhaps they could comment on this:
The article quotes… ‘Madugiri (sic) Modi, who changed his last name to match the Prime Minister's.’
Madugiri Modi is a reference to Atul Kumar – a resident of Madhugiri in the State of Karnataka who changed his name to Madhugiri Modi.
Legislation passed by the BJP has also had a Hindu nationalist focus.
This is yet another sweeping statement with no basis in fact.
Modi’s BJP has been in power in the Centre since 2014 and Yogi has been in power since 2017.
I could not find any legislation by either that was Hindu nationalist in focus.
The only possible law that refers to Hindus is the Citizenship Amendment Act (‘ÇAA’). That law merely fast-tracks citizenship for certain categories of persecuted minorities from the Islamic states of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Further, it applies to Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Buddhists as well as Hindus.
‘…as young Muslim students challenge a controversial hijab ban at some colleges, backed by the BJP, in the country's courts’
The issue of hijab was raised in the state of Karnataka. There, a handful Muslim girls suddenly decided to abandon their school uniforms and turned up to wearing burkhas (not hijabs).
Some observers contend that the girls were agents of the radical Islamist group – Popular Front of India.
All interested parties appeared before the Karnataka High Court. On 15 March 2022, the full bench of the Karnataka High Court ruled that the hijab was not an essential religious practice of Islam and that the prescription of a school uniform was a reasonable restriction on the constitutional rights of Muslims.
The Hijab row proceedings in the honourable High Court of Karnataka!! How and why the HC upholds ban on Hijab in educational institutions. Hopefully people with the sense to reason logically watch this!! Please watch!!!
This dispute had no connection whatsoever to Yogi or UP.
‘Modi's government has locked down Kashmir…’’
There have been ongoing restrictions in Kashmir since at least 1990. The reason for the restrictions is ongoing terror attacks carried out by Islamic terrorists. Brown sepoys would benefit from watching Vivek Agnihotri’s recent film – The Kashmir Files to gain some insight into why restrictions are needed in Kashmir.
‘(Modi’s) party campaigned for Islamic religious sites to be replaced with Hindu temples…’
This assertion is balderdash.
During the course of Islamic invasions of India, over 40,000 temples were destroyed and mosques built on them.
One such temple was Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya, UP - revered by Hindus as the birth-place of Shree Ram. Ram Janmabhoomi is to Hindus what Mecca is to Muslims and what Jerusalem is to the Jews.
Around 1528–1529, the invader Babur destroyed the existing temple on the site of Ram Janmabhoomi and built Babri Masjid on it.
In 1992, a group of Hindus demolished Babri Mosque.
This is what the BJP said in its 2014 election manifesto about Ram Janmabhoomi:
BJP reiterates its stand to explore all possibilities within the framework of the constitution to facilitate the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
In its 2019 election manifesto, the BJP stated:
We reiterate our stand on Ram Mandir. We will explore all possibilities within the framework of the Constitution and all necessary efforts to facilitate the expeditious construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
On 9 November 2019, a five-judge bench of the Indian Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Hindus held legal title to Ram Janmabhoomi.
The 1045 page judgement:
· Analysed evidence from historical records, oral testimonies, expert archaeologists and other sources.
· Noted that Hindus had never relinquished their claim to Ram Janmabhoomi despite the construction of Babri Masjid.
· Observed that the first legal suit by Hindus claiming ownership of Ram Janmabhoomi was commenced January 1885.
· Noted that, following independence, a suit was instituted by Hindus on 13 January 1950.
· Accepted that a temple lay beneath the destroyed structure as established by the Archaeological Survey of India and that the underlying structure was not an Islamic structure.
· Concluded that the faith and belief of Hindus since prior to construction of Babri Masjid and subsequently has always been that Janmaasthan of Ram is the place where Babri Mosque was constructed.
· Ruled that this faith and belief of Hindus was proved by documentary and oral evidence.
The judgement can be read here: https://www.sci.gov.in/pdf/JUD_2.pdf
‘Ín Uttar Pradesh, the BJP has introduced…longer jail terms for Muslim men accused of converting Hindu women to Islam.’
The starting point for reporting on legislation for any credible journalist is to read the relevant legislation.
The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020 can be read here:
The Ordinance prohibits unlawful conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or fraud.
Nowhere in its 14 sections does the ordinance make it a crime for Muslim men to convert Hindu women to Islam.
But why let facts come in the way of a good story?
‘In 2015, 52-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched by a mob over suspicion of storing beef in his fridge in his house in Uttar Pradesh.’
The Akhlaq incident took place in 2015 when UP was ruled by Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party. Yogi was elected as Chief Minister in 2017.
Akhlaq's mob lynching …is just one example of a series of Muslim lynchings in India.
I could not find any evidence of mob lynching of Muslims in Uttar Pradesh during Yogi’s tenure.
As for the rest of India, the cases I have come across are more of Muslims lynching Hindus; rather than the other way around. Here are some recent examples: https://www.australianhindu.com/post/another-hindu-murdered-for-over-a-social-media-post
This article documents 23 recent incidents of Hindus being lynched mainly by Muslims: https://www.opindia.com/2020/04/23-incidents-hindus-lynched-murdered-no-outrage/
There's a mythology around Modi that voters relate to — he's risen from a small town, and he's seen as a common man that's not from India's elite.
Modi does come from a small town, he is seen as a common man and he is not from India’s elite. These are facts, myths.
A Delhi University student – ‘Hissana’ is quoted about her right to choose to wear a hijab.
Delhi is not a region of Uttar Pradesh. It is a separate territory of India ruled by a non-BJP government.
‘…there is a persistent persecution of minorities in this country.’
The article provides no evidence of persecution of minorities in UP or in India for that matter.
A number of states in India are governed by non-BJP states.
The article makes no mention of the numerous benefit schemes
for minorities in India.
This article, for example, suggests that the Modi government has spent 22,000 crore rupees on minority welfare (to mainly Muslims) and given 3.2 crore scholarships to Muslims. https://swarajyamag.com/ideas/secularism-modi-government-spent-rs-22000-crore-on-minority-welfare-gave-rs-32-crore-scholarships-muslims-biggest-beneficiaries
The article quotes the following from Peter Varghese in claiming persecution of Islamic people:
‘We clearly have some concerns in relation to China," said Peter Varghese, former Australian High Commissioner to India.
‘It's right and proper that we raise that, and to the extent that we have concerns about what's happening in India, I'm sure we can find appropriate ways to raise those as well.’
Varghese’s quote has absolutely nothing to do with Yogi.
Here is his full quote:
Former Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary and high commissioner to India, Peter Varghese, says Australia should stand up for human rights in all contexts.
"We clearly have some concerns in relation to China," Mr Varghese says.
"It's right and proper that we raise that and to the extent that we have concerns about what's happening in India, I'm sure we can find appropriate ways to raise those as well."
Mr Varghese also thinks it's far too early to be writing off India's democracy.
"India has a very long tradition of democracy, but it has also been a democracy which, in the past, has been sorely tested," he says.
"The point I would make is that there's nothing wrong with Indian democracy that can't be fixed by what's right with Indian democracy."
A young Muslim woman is quoted as saying, ‘This is a gradual process taking place, mob lynching, riots, these all come under the continuous stages of something big happening’
Yogi has repeatedly boasted that there has not been a single riot in UP throughout his tenure. I have not seen anyone provide evidence to the contrary.
Enormity of Yogi's victory
Thirdly, the authors appear to be unaware of, or to have wilfully turned a blind eye to, the enormity of Yogi’s victory.
AHM had analysed the significance of Yogi’s victory on 11 March 2022:
The authors of the article, on the other hand, appear to hold the view that issues such as the Karnataka high school hijab controversy, a lynching in 2015 and the views of a Muslim Delhi University student to be more significant.
Analysis of objectivity of article
Fourthly, I asked a researcher with no knowledge of what I am writing, to analyse the article by reference to whether its content was positive or negative towards Yogi.
Here is the result of that analysis:
Number of times found
Negative content about Yogi
Positive content about Yogi
The ABC’s policy on Impartiality and Diversity of perspectives dated 18 August 2014 states:
The ABC has a statutory duty to ensure that the gathering and presentation of news and information is impartial according to the recognised standards of objective journalism. The ABC aims to present, over time, content that addresses a broad range of subjects from a diversity of perspectives reflecting a diversity of experiences, presented in a diversity of ways from a diversity of sources, including content created by ABC staff, generated by audiences and commissioned or acquired from external content-makers. Impartiality does not require that every perspective receives equal time, nor that every facet of every argument is presented.
I am awaiting a response from the ABC as to how this article complies with its ‘Impartiality and Diversity of Perspectives’ policy.
Challenges of governing UP
Fifthly, the piece omits to mention one crucial fact.
UP has a population of approximately 236 million. If it were a country, it would be the fifth most populous country in the world.
Its population is equivalent to that of Germany, the United Kingdom and France combined or roughly the same as Brazil.
A vast proportion of its population is very poor.
The article provides no insight into how a ‘Hindu supremacist warrior monk’ managed to get re-elected despite these challenges.
Primus inter pares
A number of Indian commentators are now tipping Yogi as primus inter pares to succeed Modi as the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate.
If Yogi does become PM of India, the brown sepoys will be frothing from their mouths in a state of uncontrollable rage.
I wrote to the ABC requesting the opportunity to respond to their article. I have not been provided with that opportunity, to date.
Some other sources
Gupta, Shantanu The Monk who became Chief Minister 2017, Bloomsbury
Gupta, Shantanu The Monk who transformed Uttar Pradesh 2021, Garuda Prakashan
Chengappa, Raj Modi + Yogi = BJP’s new Winning Formula 21 March 2022, India Today