Case 1: BSP national general secretary SC Mishra offers prayers at makeshift Ram Temple in Ayodhya and other temples of prominence before addressing a Prabudh Varg Goshthi which culminates with the chants of Jai Shri Ram.
Case 2: Five Brahmin leaders of the SP meet party chief Akhilesh Yadav to offer him a statue of Lord Parashuram and promise to install his 108-feet statue. Akhilesh has already promised to construct a grand Lord Vishnu temple once his party comes to power.
LUCKNOW: While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continues to follow its Hindutva agenda with party workers being asked to seek blessings from seers on Guru Purnima, the Opposition – primarily the SP and the BSP –has also started treading on the path of ‘soft Hindutva’ in the name of Brahmin outreach.
With UP Vidhan Sabha elections hardly eight months away, the Opposition seems to have made a major shift in its approach to counter BJP’s Hindutva agenda, which, according to political experts, has helped the BJP bring together upper caste, non-Yadav OBCs and non-Jatav Dalits to a great extent.
What has come as a surprise is the paradigm shift in the approach of parties like the Bahujan Samaj Party.
In 2007, when the BJP’s fortune was on decline in UP, BSP went for social engineering to win over the upper caste to tackle the SP’s winning run. It succeeded by winning a majority with Brahmins shifting towards it.
However, with BJP in power both at the Centre and in UP, the BSP now has made a shift in its approach by making efforts to woo not only Brahmins but other Hindus by invoking Lord Ram in the first phase of Prabudh Varg Goshthi, Lord Krishna in Phase II and Lord Vishwanath in the phase III of the meet.
What has also come as a surprise is the fact that BSP’s general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra, while invoking Lord Ram, has even promised to ensure speedy completion of Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
Replying to a question on the shift in the party’s approach, Mishra said: “Being a Brahmin, I have been offering prayers in temples since childhood. There has never been any restriction on religious belief in the party either.”
Asked if it was BSP’s strategy to counter BJP’s Hindutva plank, Mishra replied in the negative but said the move certainly aimed at exposing BJP’s false agenda.
“They don’t have any Hindutva agenda. They whip up sentiments only during elections just to divert people’s attention from problems being faced by farmers, labourers, women and common man,” Mishra said.
Mishra’s statements as well as the tour programme hint at BSP’s shift towards ‘soft Hindutva’.
After the completion of Phase I of Prabudh Varg Goshthi in Sultanpur on Thursday, Mishra would begin the second leg of the meetings from Mathura-Vrindavan, the abode of Lord Krishna.
During his speech in Ayodhya, Mishra had announced that the third phase of Prabudh Varg Goshthi would begin from Varanasi, the abode of Lord Vishwanath, and the fourth phase would take off from Chitrakoot Dham.
Interestingly, former minister and senior Samajwadi Party leader Rajendra Chaudhary said Hindutva had been on SP’s agenda for a long time.
“It is not that we are treading on this path to counter BJP,” he said, adding that Brahmin outreach and installation of the idol of Lord Parashuram was being done by the members of specific communities and they had complete support of the party.
Decoding the shift in Opposition parties, political expert Badri Narayan said: “Mass politics is not possible today in UP or at the national level without joining the Hindutva discourse. Hindutva is the mainstream for political mobilisation right now. Anyone who jumps into the political arena would have to address Hindutva agenda.”
“It is becoming a necessity for parties to remain in the Hindutva discourse to make a space for themselves. Be it Dalits or Brahmins, every community is getting influenced by the symbols of Hindutva,” he added.