Living truly up to its established notoriety, a section of Indian media did not disappoint the news consuming public when it moved in with lightening speed to desperately change the perception of Yogi Adityanath from being a man known for his hate speech to someone who cared about development and more crucially, ate papaya for breakfast.
Yes, you heard it right! That’s exactly what formed the dominating theme of coverage for a section of the pro-government media.
On Tuesday, while the active IT cell of the BJP sought to highlight the positive side of Adityanath, some usual suspects in the media went overboard in focussing on the newly elected chief minister’s simple dietary habits.
They found a close friend of Adityanath, Swami Vidyachetan Maharaj from Sitapur-based Naimisharanya Ashram, who claims to have known the Yogi for over 12 years, to find out the inside information on the breakfast menu of the UP CM.
Maharaj was widely quoted as saying, “As far as the dietary habits of Adityanath is concerned, his morning platter generally consists of boiled grams, papaya, chhaach (whey), apple and daliya (oat meal). Lunch usually comprises of a chapati and daal with a boiled vegetable.”
He added, “He (Adityanath) takes dry fruits if he misses lunch. Dinner consists of two chapatis, daal and green vegetables. If he skips dinner, then he takes an apple, and goes to bed by 11.00 PM.”
This is precisely what I had predicted on 17 March, hours after the BJP had zeroed in on his name for the post of Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister. I had said how members of my fraternity will now embark on a tedious campaign to establish just what an amazing human being the politician from Gorakhpur has been all his life.
It was all our fault to blame him for his hate speeches targetting Muslims and Christians in the past. He had never threatened Muslim girls that they will be converted to Hinduism. The five-time MP has had nothing to do with militant Hindutva.
He never compared Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan (because of his Muslim name) to Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed during the intolerance debate in 2015. The same year, the humble politician was atrociously misquoted on asking people to leave India if they didn’t practice Surya Namaskar.
Just before the UP polls, some mischievous elements within the media had wrongly attributed controversial statements on ‘love jihad’ and ‘Kairana Hindu’ exodus to him.
In hindsight, media also erred in its reportage in 2005, when Adityanath was once again wrongly blamed for having led a purification drive involving the conversion of 1800 Christians to Hinduism in the town of Etah in UP.
In January 2007, we once again demonised a gentle soul, when we maliciously reported of his arrest and remand for a fortnight, on charges of disturbing peace. Since there was no arrest, the report of a further unrest and several coaches of the Mumbai bound Mumbai-Gorakhpur Godan Express being burnt, allegedly by Adityanath’s Hindu Yuva Vahini members too were far from the truth.
There were no escalation of tension and no riots across his constituency, Gorakhpur. And, of course, no mosques, homes, buses and trains were burnt.
And once again, I blame it to the doctored video that showed him sitting on a stage, from where a man was seen threatening to dig out the dead Muslim women from their graves so that they could be raped.
I agree with my papaya-obsessed friends in the media that we mustn’t make up false stories to demonise a man, who’s truly been a gentle soul and messiah of the poor in Uttar Pradesh. I’m afraid, we are in the danger of repeating the same mistake, that we made in the case of our honourable prime minister, Narendra Modi.
While we all falsely projected him as someone on whose watch thousands of Muslims were brutally massacred in Gujarat, little did we realise that he would be pained even to see a puppy being run over by his car.
After a little bit of patience and soaring electoral fortune, we now also know the same politician loved to empower the girl child, believed in one-way dialogue, Mann Ki Baat, and cared about development even including Qabristan and Shamsan.
And you jobless social media users, find something meaningful in your life than to continuously target a person who’s been elected by people five times in the past and whose party has won a historic mandate in the just-concluded assembly elections. Do you really think you are smarter than the UP voters?
Since we now have stories on Yogi ji's breakfast and his love for papaya, really want to know his toothpaste preferences.
— Nidhi Razdan (@Nidhi) March 21, 2017
Now that we have stories on Yogi ji's breakfast and his love for papaya, I am curious to know his views on Kapil and Sunil's fight.
— Jet Lee(Suitcase wale Vasooli Bhai) (@Vishj05) March 21, 2017
Its better to concentrate on how @yogi_adityanath is handling UP administration rather than his toothpaste and papaya.
— d 🇮🇳 (@djbanggud) March 21, 2017