Mumbai: The BJP is fuelling communal issues such as the row over the Gyanvapi mosque with an eye on the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the Shiv Sena said Friday in an editorial in its mouthpiece, Saamana.
Claims about the discovery of a ‘Shivling’ on the premises of Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque have become the subject of discussion in recent weeks. While the issue is in court, BJP leaders have cited the developments to demand a relook at the Places of Worship Act, with some even calling for “reclamation” of temples in Kashi and Mathura.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led party, which has been looking to project its brand of Hindutva as more real than that of former ally BJP, also said the latter’s “development model” comprises furthering communal issues such as the debates over mosques and temples.
“These days, it looks like the BJP has taken up the agenda of Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque… People in the BJP have been talking about how Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is going to rename Lucknow as Lakshmanpur. BJP’s development model is going on in this manner,” the editorial reads.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reacting to the 2019 SC verdict in favour of building a Ram Temple at the disputed Ayodhya site, had called it a “day to forget any bitterness”, the editorial recalled. The RSS, too, when asked about the Gyanvapi mosque and Mathura’s Idgah, had said that it was associated with the Ayodhya movement because of a historical backdrop, calling its role in the movement an exception, it went on to say.
“But, as the 2024 Lok Sabha elections are drawing closer, one can see a change in the stance. Now, AIMIM’s (Asaduddin) Owaisi has in his own way spoken about the Mathura and Gyanvapi mosques. This great person has said that they will not let one more mosque be sacrificed.
“Because of all this there is an indication of what exactly will happen before the 2024 election and on what issues the elections will be fought,” reads the editorial.
Shiv Sena’s Hindutva vs BJP’s
Sena’s stand on the Gyanvapi row, and the larger temple-mosque politics, is in line with Maharashtra CM Thackeray’s proclamation that his party’s Hindutva is distinct from the BJP’s, and has “nationalism, not communalism” at its core.
Just last week, the Shiv Sena, while publicising its Hindutva as “Hrudyat Ram, haatala kaam (Ram in the heart, job in hand)”, had slammed the BJP over its “fake Hindutva to divert attention from real issues”.
Reiterating its stance that the BJP’s Hindutva is not development-oriented unlike the Sena’s, the party in its Saamana editorial Friday cited news reports about schools in Uttar Pradesh allegedly not having walls or toilets.
It went on to add that there is no end to temple-mosque politics and debates over issues such as AIMIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi’s visit to Aurangzeb’s tomb in Aurangabad “because political fortunes are dependent on the fire”.
“But, the fire in the stomach is more important than these flames. Our neighbouring country (Sri Lanka) is a live example of what can happen if that fire gets out of control,” the editorial reads.
The Sena mouthpiece also said that while France — with a population of a little over 6.5 crore — is supplying Rafales, India, with a population of 130 crore is caught up in debates over temples and mosques.
“Religious issues have not been able to win over the questions of inflation, hunger and economic distress, so while lighting the temple-mosque fire, everyone must exercise restraint,” the editorial says.
(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)