Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday compared 'Surya Namaskar', a form of Yoga, with 'Namaz' (prayers) offered by Muslims and said those opposing the yogic exercise wanted to divide the society on religious lines.
The CM's comparison has led to speculation that 'Surya Namaskar' may be made compulsory by the BJP government in days to come.
"All asanas (postures) in surya namaskar, pranayama activities are similar to the way namaz is offered by our Muslim brothers. But nobody ever tried to bring them together because a few people were interested only in 'bhoga' not Yoga," said the CM adding that those performing Surya Namaskar improve their health and agility.
He was speaking at the three-day Uttar Pradesh Yoga Mahotsava, being organised by Baba Ramdev's Patanjali Yoga Peeth and Bharat Swabhimaan Nyas.
Considering, in 2015 a controversy had started over Surya Namaskar and All-India Muslim Personal Law Board's (AIMPLB) had warned to launch an agitation if it was made compulsory in schools, Yogi's statement on the first day of Yoga Mahotsav assumes significance.
The Chief Minister lauded the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for making United Nations declare June 21 as International Yoga Day. He also made use of the occasion to thank PM Modi for giving him the responsibility of Uttar Pradesh. "Modiji has given me Uttar Pradesh at a time when no one even offers alms to sadhus and saints," he said.