Opposition parties on Saturday voiced their disapproval of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s decision to appoint Gorakhpur MP Adityanath the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh – some reacted with caution, while others called it the “biggest assault” on secularism The Times of India reported.

Congress leader Veerappa Moily said “Maybe the BJP or RSS would like to endorse their cause of Hinduism. India is not Hinduism. Hinduism is not India.” However, the official statement from Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala was not outright anti-Adityanath. “Congress will continue to act as watchdog of people’s interests and play a constructive role in the progress of UP,” he said.

Samajwadi Party MP Naresh Agrawal said he would give Adityanath six months to form an opinion on his appointment. “We hope he will change his thinking and desist from creating a divide between Hindus and Muslims. If he does, we will go among the people and oppose him,” he added.

Communist Party of India leader Brinda Karat said making Adityanath the CM-designate was part of the “RSS agenda”. “UP is the new experimental field for the RSS agenda...Several charges like rioting and more serious offences exist against him in various courts in UP...Then why this rhetoric of ending criminalisation?” Speaking along the same lines, Janata Dal(United) spokesperson Harivansh said Adityanath was “the natural choice and fit into the politics that BJP follows”.

National Conference leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, said on Twitter: “Can spokespersons of BJP now put to rest their oft repeated assertion that RSS is only a social organisation?”

The BJP, however, has stood firmly behind its decision. Party spokesman Siddharth Nath Singh said, “That image [of a saffron icon] may be with the media, but he has been elected again and again. He stands for development and that is the agenda we have got.” Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Adityanath would work for the BJP’s agenda of “inclusive growth”.

Adityanath is known for his hardline Hindutva politics. In January, he had proposed a US-like immigration ban in India. The five-time MP had also spoken about the alleged exodus from Kairana and promised to deal with the issue “strictly” once the BJP was in power.