Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath on Wednesday said namaz was similar to surya namaskar, so the promotion of yoga cannot be considered communal. He was speaking at a yoga event in Lucknow, reported NDTV. While there, he credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for promoting yoga.

“All asanas in surya namaskar, pranayama activities are similar to the way namaz is done by our Muslim brothers,” he said. The chief minister thanked Modi for changing the way yoga is perceived. “Earlier, before 2014, if anyone talked about a yoga day, it would be considered communal,” said Adityanath.

Modi has been campaigning for yoga and urging more people to take up the practice. The Modi government got the United Nations to declare June 21 International Yoga Day, and also plans to give our international and national awards on contributions to yoga.

Adityanath is known for his hardline Hindutva views. Over the years, he has made several statements against the minority communities, Muslims in particular. Among his more recent anti-Muslim statements was an endorsement of the United States President Donald Trump’s immigration ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations.

The Bharatiya Janata Party decimated Samajwadi Party in the recently concluded state elections and made the Gorakhpur MP its chief minister.