Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has triggered a row with his latest statement. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) strongman has said that the festival of Holi has to be respected by everyone as it falls once in a year while Namaz is offered many times.
Referring to the shifting of Namaz timing on the occasion of Holi, the UP Chief Minister said that he really appreciated that the timings were changed. Adityanath made the statement while addressing a public rally ahead of Phulpur Assembly bypolls, scheduled on March 11.
Ahead of Holi, Imam-e-Eidgah Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahli, who is also executive committee member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), had appealed to the imams of different mosques, especially those in sensitive areas, to shift the timing of the Friday prayers by 30 minutes to an hour and, in the process, send a message of communal amity.
"In the past, there have been incidents of riots breaking out with the Holi revellers throwing colour on those going to offer namaz...We have taken this step especially keeping in mind the sensitivity in the mixed population areas," he had said.
The cleric had said that Shia scholar Maulana Kalbe Jawwad had also decided to shift the prayer timings at the Asifi mosque.
The bypolls in Gorakhpur and Phulpur were necessitated as Yogi Adityanath and Keshav Prasad Maurya were elevated as Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister respectively following BJP’s victory in the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.
The BJP has fielded former Varanasi mayor Kaushlendra Singh Patel as its candidate from Phulpur while Upendra Shukla would contest from Gorakhpur.
Gorakhpur assumes significance as it is the bastion of Adityanath, who has represented the seat in Lok Sabha five times. Prior to Adityanath, Gorakhpur was thrice represented in Parliament by his mentor Avaidyanath.
Phulpur, once the bastion of the Congress, was represented by late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The BJP won the seat for the first time in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.