Many intellectuals had analyzed that one of the main reason for PM Modi’s win in 2014 was due to the Hindutva factor. They may well be correct. Rather, they assume that they are correct. Because, if other factors are analysed, it is difficult for the Congress or its partners to initiate corrective measures. With the Uttar Pradesh elections on the horizon, it seems that the Congress has bought this argument fed to them by these intellectuals.
So, project “soft hindutva” is back on track – lest, Congress will end up fighting for the minority votes and being one of the many parties vying for the same. Congress is no stranger to Soft-Hindutva. In fact, Congress was the first party to ban cow slaughter in 1955. It is a different matter altogether that they are now busy appeasing the minority vote-bank.
Here are some of the decisions taken recently by the Congress, that incontrovertibly proves that they are bringing back Soft-Hindutva.
Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Kedarnath Shrine
To be fair to Congress, Rahul had diagnosed the vote erosion among the electorate before Prashant Kishore joined him. It is no coincidence that Rahul undertook a yatra to Kedarnath Shrine on foot in 2015. No wonder he felt a “fire-like” energy when he visited the temple. His quote: “Aam taur par Mandir mein jata hun to mangata nahin hun. Main andar gaya, aag jaisi shakti mili“. Having seen Rahul on TV over the years, I am pretty sure he could not come up with this. Well, the first steps towards “soft hindutva” were taken. This also is a marked departure from his statement in 2014 saying: people who go to temples, molest women.
“Brahmin” Sheila Dixit’s anointment as UP CM candidate
A beneficiary of the 2014 election results was one Prashant Kishore. His words are now sacrosanct in the Congress. So, now the perennially minority appeasing Congress, has been convinced to name a Brahmin daughter-in-law – Sheila Dixit – as it’s CM candidate. The key word: Brahmin. If UP still votes on religion/caste basis, BJP must expect some erosion of its votes.
No pundit worth his salt, gives a chance for Congress to win UP elections. This means Mrs Dixit will not be the next UP CM, come hell or high water. The arithmetic is simple. SP retains the Muslim-Yadav combine. BSP gets its share of Dalit votes. The remaining Hindu-OBC-Dalit Modi coalition needs to be broken, so that another Mahagathbandhan can be formed, on the lines of Bihar model. Meanwhile, enjoy the silence of liberal intellectuals, who do not question Congress on why a muslim or dalit was not named a CM candidate by Congress.
For now, BJP seems to be obliging the strategy by neither naming a CM candidate nor talking decisively on the Ram Mandir issue. With the recent verbal diarrhoea between BJP and BSP leaders and workers, chances of a post-poll coalition between these parties also appears slim. So, unless Amit Shah smells the tea leaves, get ready for Maya-Akhilesh-Rahul coalition.
Raking up Dalit issues
It must be said that the atrocities on Dalits need to be condemned, without reservation.
PM Modi has diligently worked towards the dalit cause since he assumed office. Be it the #StandUpIndia initiative or his participation in the DICCI (Dalit Industrial Chambers of Commerce and Industry) event or the MUDRA scheme or the buying of the house where Ambedkar stayed in London for Rs 40Cr. He has been relentless. OpIndia’s related piece on Dalit politics can be read here.
In the recent months, atrocities on Dalits is getting lot of mainstream media coverage. However, the nuance isn’t lost among the voters. There is a definite plan to divide the Hindu-Dalit-OBC coalition that Modi built during 2014. Raking up every dalit issue in the parliament and linking it with the central government has become a trend. Also, some of the comments from the political parties have explicitly tried to blame Hindutva (and/or RSS) as the perpetrators of the crimes against Dalits. Update: Investigations are still ongoing, much like they were on going during the peak of the “Christians under attack” routine, which was later exposed.
Recent incident at Una in Gujarat is another notable marker. Who is backing them against the BJP? Of course, one of Congress’ primary vote-bank – Jamiat-e-Ulema-Hind. Of course, the abetters in the media are happy to play along.
Sonia’s visit to Varanasi
One thing I will ever be thankful to Modi was, breaking the unwritten code or Omerta of not campaigning in other party’s bigwigs’ constituencies, by going to Amethi. That he did not campaign in Rae Bareli still hurts. Nevertheless, now we have Sonia visiting Varanasi. Before she cut short her trip due to illness, she was planning to visit the Kashi Vishwanath Temple for the Aarti. This alone calls for a “Har-Har-Mahadev”. Who says Achche Din aren’t here?
I am pretty sure, a has-been anchor who desperately lobbies for an opportunity to be invited on Newshour debates on Times Now, would not have requested Sonia to visit the Gyanvapi Mosque. After all, mission “soft hindutva” cannot be polluted with small things like secularism.
The #GangaAarti was beautiful, and so was Kashi Vishwanath, but hope the PM elect visits Gyanvapi mosque too!
— Sagarika Ghose (@sagarikaghose) May 17, 2014
For 10 years of UPA rule, and for period long before, Iftar parties were the norm at Lutyens. No one accounted for how the taxpayers money was wasted on such social gatherings. In 2016, for the first time, UP Congress did not organize its own Iftar party for its primary vote bank. Sonia too did her bit by not hosting one in Delhi – apparently, she remembered the poor to whom the ration was distributed. Did someone say “soft hindutva”?