India is a Hindu rashtra – a Hindu nation – because all citizens of the country are Hindus, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath claimed on Wednesday.

Adityanath made the controversial statement in an interview with news channel ABP News. He also shared a clip of the interview on Twitter.

Hindu Rashtra is an alternative polity that Hindu supremacists aspire to. According to them, it will be created by dismantling India’s secular Constitution and commandeering existing institutions to give primacy to Hindus.

Adityanath argued that Hindu identity is not associated with a creed, religion or sect but is a cultural term.

“When someone from India goes to perform Haj, he is addressed as a Hindu there,” the chief minister told ABP. “No one there sees him as Haji, no one accepts him as Islam, there he is addressed by the name of Hindu. If seen in that context, India is a Hindu Rashtra, because every citizen of India is a Hindu.”

He said people born in India are called Hindus and if someone considered saw their identity in this light, they would not have a problem with it.

“If we associate Hindu with religion, faith and sect, then we are making a mistake in understanding Hindu,” Adityanath added. “Every Indian must have highest regard for the Constitution, which is our guide.”

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In the interview, the Uttar Pradesh chief minister also claimed that the idea of “Akhand Bharat” will become a reality as Pakistan would eventually assimilate into India.

“Akhand Bharat” is a concept espoused by Hindutva nationalists which envisages that neigbouring countries Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka would become part of India.

“Pakistan is not a reality in the spiritual world,” Adityanath said in the interview. “If something is not reality, the country is fortunate to have even survived for so long. It will be a burden on the earth till it exists. It is in their interest to assimilate into India soon.”