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The ‘3M formula’ guiding RSS-BJP’s final push in UP for Yogi — Mandir, migration, Muslims

RSS campaign documents — leaflets, posters, and speeches — reveal three main talking points of BJP in 2022 polls. Fourth 'M' might be muscularity as Article 370 is a recurring theme too.

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Varanasi/Gorakhpur: Mandir, migration and Muslims — these are the three Ms that reverberate across the Purvanchal region of Uttar Pradesh as the assembly election approaches its last two phases, with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leading the way.

RSS campaign documents, which include leaflets, posters, and speeches, show that mandirs, migration — said to be exacerbated by the high prevalence of marginal land-holdings, and “Muslim appeasement” by the Opposition (read Samajwadi Party) are the three main talking points of the BJP in the 2022 elections. A fourth M might be muscularity as the scrapping of Article 370 is also a recurring theme.

Speaking to ThePrint, a senior RSS functionary in Varanasi explained not just the importance of these planks but of the Sangh’s role in setting the agenda.

“There is a Y (Yadav) factor in this election, but for us, the most crucial ones are mandir, migration and Muslims,” the functionary said.

The issue of migration, he claimed, came to the fore after the RSS conducted a “survey” in the wake of the pandemic lockdowns.

“After the lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, when the migrant labourers returned to the Gorakhpur-Kushinagar area, we did a ground survey and prepared a database of migrant labourers. We had handed it over to the state government for further action,” he said.

An RSS worker distributes pamphlets during a door-to-door campaign in Moharipur, Gorakhpur | Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
An RSS worker distributes pamphlets during a door-to-door campaign in Moharipur, Gorakhpur | Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint

According to him, the “survey” revealed that “reduced land-holdings” were the main reason for the high rate of migration from UP. “The government has to form a new land policy for that, and it is working on it,” he added.

The functionary, who played an important role in designing the poll campaign in Purvanchal, said that Muslims were being “misled” and that it was essential to change this.

“Muslims are not our enemies as the Opposition is try to project, but they are misled by some political parties for their vested interests,” he added. The functionary also claimed that many Muslim women supported the BJP.

“In 2019, our post-election analysis showed that in Muslim-dominated booths, the BJP got 3-4 per cent of votes. We dug deeper and saw that these are the votes of Muslim women, who supported us following the Modi government’s decision on banning triple talaq,” he said.

According to him, the ongoing hijab controversy, which started in Karnataka and has spread to other states, including UP, is a ploy by Opposition parties and Islamic outfits like the Popular Front of India  (PFI) to counter the BJP.

“The Opposition, aided by forces like the PFI, hatched a political controversy around hijab in school. The controversy over hijab is pre-planned to make the Muslim women voters angry before the polls,” he alleged. “Once the elections in UP end, this controversy will die a natural death.”

The fight in this region is especially important for the party’s prestige, with UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath contesting from the Gorakhpur Urban seat and with Varanasi being a stronghold (Lok Sabha constituency) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Gorakhpur and Varanasi will vote on 3 and 7 March, respectively.

Also Read: Ram Mandir, Kashmir, triple talaq — on the trail of RSS’ ‘different’ campaign to bring Yogi back

‘If nothing else, remember Ram and Kashi temples’

The Ram Temple in Ayodhya, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor in Varanasi (which connects the temple with the Ganga riverside), and the upliftment of Gorakhpur Math’s surrounding areas have been frequent refrains in the campaign.

The Varanasi RSS functionary quoted earlier said that a practising Hindu should always remember what ‘Maharaj ji (Yogi Adityanath)” has given them.

“What was Kashi Vishwanath Temple before? It was so inconvenient for a pilgrim to enter it after taking a dip in the Ganga, and now this temple gives us such peace. Any Hindu who has visited the temple before, and then now, should vote for Yogi ji — just for the temple,” he added.

“We are telling people, ‘Kuch nahin toh Ram Mandir, Kashi Mandir yaad rakhiye (If nothing else, remember the Ram Temple and Kashi Temple),” he added.

Almost every sampark abhiyan (local campaigns) in the Varanasi-Gorakhpur belt starts from a mandir, where Sangh cadres and BJP members gather, chant slogans, and recite mantras before heading out to spread the good word.

“Mandir is the primary foundation of the Sangh Parivar, and there is nothing that the organisation does without preaching Bharat Mata and our Gods,” a second RSS functionary said.

RSS members at a meeting in Bhairopur in Gorakhpur | Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint

‘UP will become like Kashmir, Bengal, Kerala, if Yogi not voted back’

In addition to extolling temple development, the RSS-BJP campaign in the Varanasi-Gorakhpur belt has focused on “warning people” about what might happen if Yogi Adityanath is not voted back.

Arvind Menon, national secretary, BJP, and campaign in-charge of Gorakhpur, told ThePrint: “Agar Yogi ji wapas nahin aaye toh Uttar Pradesh ban jayega Kashmir, Bangal our Kerala (If Yogi doesn’t return, UP will become like Kashmir, Bengal, and Kerala).”

Explaining this further, he said that the “goondas and terrorists” that the BJP had “tamed” in UP would “return” and disrupt security and create lawlessness.

“Every time there was a terrorist incident in any part of the country, it always had a UP link. Terrorists got shelter here under the Samajwadi Party government,” he alleged.

Noting that the BJP has always focused on Hindutva, nationalism, and law and order, Menon alluded to the Yogi Adityanath government’s bulldozing of illegal buildings that were allegedly built by criminals.

“We are reassuring people that the bulldozers are now in the garage, getting repaired. Post 10 March [the day of election results], the bulldozers will be out again, showing the goondas their place,” he said.

Migration: Promises to go beyond freebies

The Gorakhpur-Kushinagar area has among the highest rates of migration in UP because of a lack of jobs and little scope of earning well through agriculture. This has caused resentment among sections of the people.

The RSS-BJP is attempting to counteract this by highlighting government schemes for migrant families and by making new promises.

BJP leader Arvind Menon said that UP has an inclusive community of “Labharthi”— beneficiaries of government schemes. “Labharthi are people who have gained from government schemes, irrespective of caste or community. It has been done for all,” he added.

“The government has given jobs, free rations, and monthly income to the families of migrant labourers,” an RSS functionary, who is part of the organisation’s research team, said, adding that the next steps were now being planned.

“We probed into the migration problem in the region and found out that the systematic reduction in land-holding among farmers and villagers forced them to urban centres as migrant labourers,” he added. “We have given data to the government, and it will come up with new land policy, it may include land security for certain communities. But the work is still in progress.”

(Edited by Asavari Singh)

Also Read: There was a gap in BJP’s UP campaign. Putin filled it


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