New Delhi: The BJP’s continued rhetoric around Hindutva, it appears, is now forcing opposition leaders to follow suit.
After former Congress president Rahul Gandhi was accused of peddling soft Hindutva, a reference to a spate of his visits to temples, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav is facing similar charges.
Much like what Rahul did ahead of assembly elections in Gujarat in 2017 and the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Akhilesh has been visiting temples across the northern region.
The SP chief had on 15 December last year even landed up at Ayodhya, where the Ram Mandir is being built, to emphasise on all the “religious work” his party has done in the city.
“Lord Rama belongs to the Samajwadi Party. We are Ram bhakts (devotees) and Krishna bhakts,” he had then said.
Since then, the former UP chief minister has been visiting temples on a regular basis.
He was at the famous Lakshman Pahari Temple in Chitrakoot, Madhya Pradesh, on 8 January. On the same day, he also visited the Kamadgiri Temple in Chitrakoot. Pictures of the former CM doing a full 5.5 km parikrama of the temple have surfaced on social media.
On 10 January, he tweeted a photo with a caption: “Hare Rama, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna- Hare Hare.”
Ten days later, the SP chief was at the Vimalnath temple at Farrukhabad in UP and, on 24 January, he visited the Buddha Temple at Shravasti.
He has also been meeting saints and seeking their blessings — pictures of these meetings are constantly posted on his official Twitter handle.
On 4 January, he had also announced that no tax would be collected from religious places if his party was elected to power in assembly polls next year.
This spurt of temple visits, political analysts in UP say, is an attempt by Akhilesh to shed his pro-Muslim image, a tag that the BJP often attempts to identify him with.
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‘Soft hindutva a political compulsion’
Analysts say that the BJP has set a Hindutva template, especially in Uttar Pradesh, leaving opposition leaders like Akhilesh with little choice but to join the bandwagon.
“The BJP is constantly changing its political vocabulary. It talks about Rama one day and on the next, it brings in Suheldev,” said Professor Badri Narayan of the Govind Ballabh Pant Social Science Institute in Prayagraj.
“To counter this political discourse, taking a soft Hindutva stand has become a political compulsion for opposition parties,” Narayan said. “This compulsion is very visible in states such as UP and Bihar because the common Hindutva sense has changed here.”
Sudhir Panwar, a professor at Lucknow University and a former member of the UP planning commission, said that more than compulsion, it is political consumption.
“I would not call it political compulsion; it is rather political consumption. The common Hindu voters want to see their leader exhibit their faith,” Panwar said. “Earlier, leaders like Akhilesh Yadav kept their faith personal. This helped the BJP to tag him or anybody as being anti-Hindu. But the moment his visits to temples are publicised, the BJP will not have the ground to play the ‘who is Hindu and who is anti-Hindu’ politics,” he added.
“I feel soft Hindutva and pro-Muslims are shades given by BJP for non-BJP Hindu leaders to classify them as inferior.”
The ruling BJP, however, accuses Akhilesh of symbolism but says his temple-hopping is a victory as it has forced Socialists to embrace Hindutva politics.
“Those who called Ram imaginary are now saying Ram belongs to everyone,” Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had said after Akhilesh’s December statements.
A BJP leader, who did not wish to be named, said, “The SP can not afford to lose its Yadav vote-share. Ahirs (which includes Yadavs) are now more inclined towards Hindutva and this is visible in the electoral results too.
“They (SP) got reduced to 47 seats in 2017 from 224 seats in 2012. Their vote share has also shrunk,” he added. “They even lost many seats in their Yadav strongholds such as Etah, Firozabad, Badaun and Kannauj.”
‘BJP hurt as it cannot term anyone anti-Hindu now’
The SP, however, dismissed the BJP charges.
“Soft Hindutva is a term planted by the BJP as the party cannot brand any political leader as being anti-Hindu now,” a close aide of Akhilesh Yadav told ThePrint. “Has Akhilesh stopped wishing people on Eid or sending a chadar to Ajmer Sharif? No, he has been visiting all cultural places during his recent visits.”
The close aide said the SP’s chief’s temple visits were amplified when he visited Chitrakoot.
“Why is the BJP upset over this? Is it because it now cannot do politics of who is anti-Hindu and who is not? All this started with the Chitrakoot visit as if it was the first time. Ahkilesh has been there many times before.”
A UP Congress functionary also backed Akhilesh. “We are also accused of playing soft Hindutva,” he said. “Everybody knows that both Akhikesh and his father are religious. The only difference is that earlier, the temple visit photos were not significant either to the BJP or the media.”
A senior Samajwadi Party leader, who did not wish to be named, however, said more needs to be done on this front.
“We have started publishing these photos recently but the BJP has been doing this for decades. Countering their natak (drama) isn’t easy,” the leader said. “The temple visits should move beyond symbolism. Right now, it all looks symbolic, be it that of Akhilesh or Priyanka Gandhi.”
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Ha!! These leftist journalists!! Muslims can divide the nation for Islam & yet stay in India!! They can go on a killing & conversion spree in Pakistan/Bangladesh & Kashmir/India but Hindus can’t be loyal to their civilization & faith??!!
@Data: Don’t expect these Jai Chand’s & Anti Hindu elements to do anything for Hindus!! They can just do drama in temples without conviction or love for Hindus!! Delhi got Muslim riots & more Hindu killings after Kejriwal won by going to Hanuman temple!!
Hindu society has to come stronger to protect itself from these anti Hindu elements!! Don’t forget that Hindu temples are still under govt. control while churches & mosques are free!!
@Data: Don’t expect generosity & love from those who killed Hindus, created Pakistan or colonized this land!! Hindus are still being killed & converted not just in Islamic Pakistan/Bangladesh but also India!!
Protect your civilization while advancing in other fields!! This nation’s identity & civilization is Hindu must be protected & prosper or everything else will be destroyed!!
Even a secular western democracy made by Christians called France is obliged to protect itself from harmful extremist ideologies like Islam!! So what are Indians waiting for??!!
In the present India, Hindus who are not with the official group can not worship. Media may be unintentionally seemss to propagate this idea.
Before the present rulers, there were Hindus in India. Hindus would be there in this country later too.
Anybody’s right to worship can not be denied.
Does this imply you can not be Hindu unless you support the present Divine Dispensation ?
@K.Shyamsundar: Too many Indians like you live with flawed knowledge, brainwashed & colonized minds!! Don’t you know Hindu civilization-al land was divided by Muslims to create Pakistan?? Don’t you know that most of those who created Pakistan stayed in India??
Don’t you know that Hindus can’t even control their temples, unlike churches & mosques??
Don’t you know that 200+ lynchings of dalit & other Hindus is happening annually by the same Muslims who did not move to Pakistan?? Don’t you know Hindus were killed in Kashmir and continue getting killed or converted in other parts of India & of course Pakistan/Bangladesh???!! Don’t you know that India was raped & exploited by British who happened to be Christians?? Don’t you know myriad fraudulent conversions are happening daily of poor Hindus by the Abrahmics??
So what bad has Hindu civilization done to the fascists who have been killing Hindus & destroying their temples for 800+ years??!! So what use is a brain which can’t let you see reality & think??
There is difference between regular Hindu & election time Hindu. Rahul, Priyanka, Mamata etc. are election time Hindus. Now Akilesh is joining the bandwagon, realizing that Hindus have woken up from their sleep, Akhilesh has to cover up his family history ordering shooting ram Bhaktas in Ayodhya. he realize that he can not get away with shooting Hindus in UP like Nehru did in 1947.
Will he implement strict POPULATION CONTROL MEASURES for all citizens irrespective of vote bank POLITICS.
Will he admit that vote bank POLITICS was the reason for shooting at SHRI RAM BHAKTS.
Will he promise to defend HINDUS who believe in education and science and prosperity and don’t believe in conversion from RIOTERS AND PROSELYTIZERS.
Does he believe that girls from a particular religious community are being targeted in a organised way by certain religious fundamentalist supported by their clergy and families who feel it’s a religious task.
Will he ensure all communities will be given modern scienctific education and anyone opposing modern education will be arrested under stringent law for spreading communal hatred.
Will he not divide INDIANS on basis of their faith and strive for a modern scienctific nation.
@data, he’s just your run-of-the-mill hypocritical opportunistic politician. Don’t expect much from him.
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