What starts from getting his politician-clients admitted to a hospital, the fancy trail ends at getting them photographed in a temple just before the elections. Such is the artistry of Prashant Kishor’s toolkit. In a political landscape where caste politics play bigger roles than development, there is a new entrant: Gotra
Turning his clients from a ‘true secular’ (here the meaning of secular is demeaning Hindus while holding others close to heart), to a ‘saccha Hindu’, seems to be an integral part of Prashant Kishor’s strategy.
In one such final attempt, West Bengal CM was heard citing her ‘Gotra’ in a political rally. Mamata Banerjee, suddenly taking a trip down the memory lane, narrated, “During my 2nd campaign, I visited a temple where the priest asked me my ‘gotra’. I told him – Maa Maati Manush. This reminds me of my visit to Tripura’s Tripureshwari temple where priest had asked me my ‘gotra’ & I had told him too ‘Maa Mati Manush’, actually I’m Shandilya.”
During my 2nd campaign, I visited a temple where the priest asked me my ‘gotra’. I told him – Maa Maati Manush. This reminds me of my visit to Tripura’s Tripureshwari temple where priest had asked me my ‘gotra’ & I had told him too ‘Maa Mati Manush’, actually I’m Shandilya: WB CM pic.twitter.com/EpxQWOHh0M— ANI (@ANI) March 30, 2021
So while Banerjee catered to the ‘secular’ voters by claiming how her party’s motto is her ‘Gotra’, she slyly mentioned how she is a Brahmin with Shandilya Gotra. In Hinduism, Gotra is broadly lineage which means that people belonging to same Gotra are descendants of an unbroken line of same male ancestor. So, ‘secular’ Mamata is now not only a Hindu, but a Brahmin belonging to a particular Gotra, Shandilya.
What seems to be the last resort, Kishor gets his politician clients to visit temples, chant religious slogans or even recite ‘Chandi Path‘. When none of it seemed to have worked for Kishor or his client, the politician was made to reveal her lineage in the final attempt to prove her Hindu-ness.
Well, this is not the first time that the politicians were seen rushing to prove their Hindu identity.
In 2018, when BJP criticized the Congress leader, Rahul Gandhi for his temple photo-ops, he retaliated saying that he is a ‘Shiv Bhakt‘. During a temple visit in Pushkar, a priest who performed puja for the leader informed that “(Rahul) Gandhi came and offered prayers at the ghat. He also said his gotra is Dattatreya. Dattatreya are Kauls and Kauls are Kashmiri Brahmin”.
Which is surprising, since Gotra depends on unbroken line of male ancestors and his grandfather, Feroze Gandhi is believed to be Parsi, who do not have the Hindu system of caste and gotras. Now, some biographers and writers have claimed that Feroze Gandhi ‘converted’ to Hinduism for his marriage with Indira, but Indira had denied any such ‘conversion’.
Further, even if he did get ‘converted’, the he does not get a Gotra. Essentially, Rahul Gandhi using his great grandfather’s Gotra to identify himself as Hindu Brahmin, is technically wrong. Some even suggested he adopted his grandmother’s Gotra, which she had ‘adopted’ from her father. But that argument is as hollow as everything else Rahul Gandhi does.
But it seems like Kishor does not quite care about getting facts right if it solves the purpose.
However, Prashant Kishor’s ‘gotra’ strategy is giving a tough fight to Ravish Kumar’s ‘kaun jaat ho‘, who has no qualms in asking people on-screen what caste they belong to.