New Delhi: It was an awkward moment of sorts when the panelists at a culture conclave were suddenly asked to share their perspectives on newly-appointed Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Aditya Nath Yogi.
Titled "Culture and Nationalism," the panelists included former diplomat and author Pavan K Verma; professor and poet Makarand Paranjape, Vedic Scholar David Frawley; and columnist and writer, Sadia Dehlvi.
A close aide of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Pavan K. Verma said that he would not reach to hasty conclusions and judge Yogi on the basis of his performance.
"I would like to judge him by his performance, rather than passing a judgement everyday," Verma, a JD-U member of the Rajya Sabha, said.
Nitish Kumar, according to him, holds a similar view.
"This is the view that I have and even Nitish Kumar has said the same thing. Let us wait for six months time and see how he performs," he added.
Pavan Verma, on his part, reminded the audience that although it was too early to judge him, his performance would largely depend on maintaining communal harmony in the state and that all the steps that he takes must remain within the ambit of the law and the constitution.
A firebrand Hindutva icon, Yogi was sworn in as 21st Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh on March 19.
Even as Verma's comments were welcomed with thunderous applause from the audience here, the views of his fellow-panelist provided room for further discussion.
"I mean what do I say? We have seen what happened to people," exclaimed Sadia Dehlvi, in what may have been an apparent reference to complaints against those posting "objectionable" comments against the UP CM on facebook.
On March 21, at least four people were arrested in different parts of UP for this.
"His words have been divisive and I am scared of what might happen. But we should judge him by his performance, which, of all things, also includes communal harmony," she said.
For Vedic scholar Frawley, who has written more than 30 books on topics such as the Vedas, Hinduism, Sanatana Dharma, Yoga, Ayurveda and Vedic astrology, among others, Yogi has been at the centre of criticism just because a section of people differ with him.
"You have to give him a chance. He has promoted development and I hope he is going to adhere to it. Let us not criticise him just because we do not agree with him. Let's give him a chance," Frawley said.
The one-day Culture Conclave was organised by the Mail Today tabloid from the India Today stable.