RIBHU RANJAN | 12 DECEMBER, 2018

Congress Dents BJP in Temple Politics

Do temple visits translate into votes?


NEW DELHI: Temple politics, despite drawing flak from sections, has worked well for Congress President Rahul Gandhi who visited ten temples altogether during the election campaign. These included 5 temples in Madhya Pradesh, 3 in Rajasthan and 2 in Chhattisgarh.

The five temples in Madhya Pradesh selected by the Congress for Rahul Gandhi’s visit, covered about 28 Assembly seats. Of these the Congress has won 13 seats in these elections, wresting seven from the BJP.

Rahul Gandhi visited the Pitambara Peeth temple in the Gwalior-Chambal region. This region is divided into four Assembly constituencies: Gwalior, Gwalior East, Gwalior Rural and Gwalior South. The Congress has won three of these constituencies, with the sole exception of Gwalior Rural. All were held by the BJP earlier.

Rahul Gandhi visited the Chitrakoot temple and performed an ‘aarti’ ritual on the banks of the Narmada in Jabalpur district. Of the four assembly seats in Jabalpur the Congress has won three, wresting these from the BJP. In 2013 the Congress had won only one of these seats.

Similarly in Rajasthan, Rahul Gandhi visited three temples that can help determine the vote in 28 Assembly constituencies. Of these 28 seats, the Congress has won 12, including nine that were held by the BJP. The list includes Alwar, Civil Lines and others.

Earlier this year the Rajasthan State Congress had shortlisted Shrinathji in Nathdwara, Khatu Shyamji in Sikar and Govind Devji in Jaipur for Rahul Gandhi to visit. The Congress has now won the crucial Sikar seat defeating the BJP's candidate Ratanlal Jaldhari by a margin of 15,180 votes.

Rahul Gandhi visited two temples in Chhattisgarh that have an impact of 12 Assembly seats. Of these 12 the Congress has won 10, wresting eight of them from the BJP.

It is also important to note that at a campaign rally held in Alwar, Rajasthan the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath said that ‘Hanuman’ was a Dalit. The Alwar parliamentary constituency has 11 Assembly seats of which the BJP has won just two. In 2013 the BJP had captured 9 Assembly seats in the same constituency.

Alwar has a strong presence of voters from the Schedule Castes and Tribes. The BJP lost the Alwar Lok Sabha bypoll last February.

Also, the Congress won 5 out 0f 7 seats in Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh. This despite a front attack in Chhindwara by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Congress leader Kamal Nath for allegedly siding with Muslims and propagating communal politics.

Evidently this had little impact on voters, and in fact worked in favour of the Congress party.

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