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03/14/2022 India (International Christian Concern) – Yogi Adityanath won the election for Chief Minister last week in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh (UP). Yogi is extremely popular with right-wing Hindu nationalists because of the stance he’s taken against religious minorities in India. He has successfully dodged the major issues plaguing India, such as poor public health and schools, and kept the focus almost solely on anti-Christian (and Muslim) sentiments.

He was quoted in a 2014 interview with Aap Ki Adalat saying, “If a Hindu becomes a Muslim or a Christian, it is conversion, but if a Muslim or a Christian returns to Hinduism, then it is a homecoming. We should all support such homecomings because the person is then getting his national identity.” His stance on anti-conversion and Hindu nationalism has only bolstered in the years since he came to power.

His popularity is expanding past the state of UP as he gains the support of other Hindu Nationalists around India, who vastly outnumber the Christian population. He, Prime Minister Modi, and the ruling BJP party have endorsed the means to persecute Christians more mercilessly. In ICC’s 2021 edition of Persecutor of the Year, we drew attention to Yogi Adityanath and his anti-Christian agenda as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.

“Yogi’s reputation primarily comes from his role as one of India’s most inflammatory Hindu nationalists, known for targeting India’s vulnerable religious minorities with anti-Christian and anti-Muslim speeches. As a politician in India, he popularized a brand of anti-Christian legislation known as “anti-conversion laws.’”

Since ICC’s POY publication last year, the number of Indian states to introduce these anti-conversion laws has risen to 11, with Haryana introducing it last week. Yogi’s popularity and influence continue to rise in India, possibly setting him up to become the next Prime Minister. The persecuted Church in India is faithful and resilient, but things will only get worse for Indian Christians while Yogi Adityanath is in power.

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