GAYETI SINGH | 28 NOVEMBER, 2018
MP votes today
NEW DELHI: As Madhya Pradesh heads to the polls today, with the results expected on December 11, Hindutva or Hindu supremacism finds itself central to the political mandate.
While the BJP has worn its Hindutva agenda on its sleeve, the Congress too seems to be peddling the Hindutva plank, with the two parties’ declarations virtually indistinguishable.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi in fact led the temple run in the poll bound state, visiting a number of temples across MP in what may have been an attempt to woo Hindu voters.
The 112-page Congress manifesto could easily be mistaken for the BJP’s, with the party promising to set up gaushalas or cow shelters ‘in every gram panchayat’, and to undertake the commercial production of ‘gaumutra' (cow urine) and 'kanda' (cowdung cakes).
The BJP promises it will set up cow shelters in every division of the state, and adds that 50 ‘Gokul villages’ will be developed for the conservation and promotion of indigenous cow breeds.
The Congress manifesto talks of developing the 'Ram path’, the mythical or legendary route taken by Lord Ram during his 14-year exile. It also sets forth a budget of Rs 1100 crore to develop religious places along ‘the Holy river Narmada’.
The Narmada features in the BJP manifesto as well, with the party underlining several facilities on the Narmada Parikrama Marg.
The river, in fact, has been part of the political fabric – the BJP organised a 'Narmada Sewa Yatra' recently and Congress leader Digvijaya Singh says he undertook a 3,500km 'parikrama' of the river on foot.
The Congress manifesto refers to the rivers Tapti, Mandakini and Kshipra as ‘mother’, promising to form trusts for the protection of these ‘sacred rivers’. The party will formulate a law to declare all holy rivers mentioned in the scriptures as living entities.
The Congress also says it will pass a law to free all temples of encroachment, and promises to add the names of priests and mahants to the deeds of temple and muth properties.
The manifesto refers to the guru-shishya parampara and promises rules for hereditary succession in myths and temples.
The BJP will increase honorariums to priests and mahants and promises to set up a religious places management authority.
The Congress’ rapid drift to overt temple politics hasn’t gone unnoticed. Home minister Rajnath Singh recently hit out at the opposition party for latching on to the cow for survival.
At a campaign rally in Madhya Pradesh, Singh said that “Congress leaders are now doing temple-hopping as they know the party cannot achieve anything on its own. They are kneeling before God and holding onto cow's feet… They are holding on to the cow's tail and promising to build shelter homes for cows.”
“For us (the BJP) the cow is not an election issue. Temple and cow are crucial parts of our culture," Singh said.
Along with the emphasis on cows and temples, both manifestos speak of subsidies and benefits to farmers, unemployment and job creation, and the safety of women.