It was a clean sweep for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, expected by the exit polls, but the numbers unprecedented. Then came another shocker as the BJP chose five-time MP from Gorakhpur, Yogi Adityanath as the Chief Minister of UP. It is well documented that Yogi Adityanath has the image of a hardliner, a man known for spewing vitriol. The controversial new CM has also openly targeted the Muslim community in the past.
So how does an educational institution with majority of Muslim students react to it? The India Today team went to the prestigious Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) to find out.
A central university established in 1875, AMU is one of India's top ranking universities and is known to have produced many notable alumni. The sprawling 1,100 acre campus has some of India's best academicians as professors. There are over 50 per cent Muslim students and the varsity has been fighting for minority status for the last few years.
MOST SKEPTICAL OF NEW REGIME
With Yogi Adityanath being elected CM, the campus is buzzing. And most are skeptical of the new regime. AMU is a fairly cosmopolitan campus, where debate and dissent are encouraged. With the new appointment there is palpable unease in the campus. But AMU is no stranger to controversy, and because of it, most students and professors are afraid to criticise Yogi publicly. A professor who doesn't wish to me named, said, "I'd rather not say anything, because if I do I know the RSS will lash out at me. Anyway, we all know what kind of a man he is. What is the point of voicing an opinion now anyway?"
Being under the UGC, students and professors claim they will remain unfazed by the election of the new UP CM. Embroiled in the middle of fighting for minority status and finding a new Vice Chancellor, they say that state administration doesn't affect the varsity at all. However, they all admit they were surprised when the BJP chose a man like Yogi Adityanath.
Professor Ali Nadeem Naqvi said, "Choosing a man who is so divisive, should make us think about what is happening in our country". Mass communication professor Shafey Kidwai said, "Culturally it could have an impact because AMU is cosmopolitan. It could have a demoralising effect on our students who feel deprived because they don't have enough representation in the government."
STUDENTS SEEM HOPEFUL OF NEW REGIME
Students in AMU seemed more hopeful of the new regime. Abdul, an MA student said, "He (Yogi Adityanath) is not a suitable person for communal harmony of India, but now that he is the CM, he said people should get equal opportunity, so let's wait and watch". Another student, Nitin said, "We all were surprised, but he's repeatedly been elected from Gorakhpur. Let's give him a chance, all we want is employment and development, which he promises to deliver on"
Another student of the university said, "Religion is the means of politics. But we don't care about these things. We want employment, WiFi and infrastructure. Shamshaan-kabristan will happen when we die. God will decide where I go. Let's focus on now."
The University has had its brushes with Yogi in the past. A member of Hindu Yuva Vahini, a saffron group found by the UP CM, called AMU a "nursery of terror" saying people there have links with ISIS.
However, most students say they believe the image makeover Yogi has shown recently. Azam said, "The means to reach the top is to be communal, but once they are there, they do follow sabka saath, sabka vikas". Those studying at AMU might be weary, but they are also hopeful that UP's Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has changed his ways.