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‘Hindutva card won’t work, didn’t work for Digvijaya in 2019′: Mani Shankar Aiyar rejects Congress’ tactics to pitch soft Hindutva before every poll

Speaking on a CNN News18 interview, Congress' veteran leader Mani Shankar Aiyar openly expressed his displeasure with his party's propensity to resurrect its "soft-Hindutva" image whenever an election nears.

Every political party strives to step up their game as election time draws near by coming up with novel strategies to win over voters. From promising irrational freebies to roping in actors and celebrities for campaigning, they do every thing possible to build a broad base of support and win elections. Congress is significantly more creative in this regard. The grand old party, as soon as any important polls are approaching, deftly reverses course from its Muslim appeasement stance and begins promoting its “soft-Hindutva” image.

Now with the crucial 2024 Lok Sabha elections round the corner, CNN News18 interviewed Congress’ veteran leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, who openly expressed his displeasure with his party’s propensity to resurrect its “soft-Hindutva” image whenever an election nears.

When questioned whether the soft Hindutva of the Congress will work for it, Aiyar asserted before the news channel that the ‘Hindutva’ card has never nor will it ever in the future work for the grand old party.

“There are many in the Congress who think this is right to do to win elections. I don’t think this is right or practical. How can we present an alternative to the BJP if we are their pale imitation?”

He then went on to give the example of Digvijaya Singh, who had contested elections against Sadhvi Pragya in 2019 but lost. Aiyar said Singh’s attempt to project himself as a Hindutva leader to take on Sadhvi Pragya. In fact he roped in 100s of Sadhus to challenge Sadhvi Pragya but that did not work, he said.

Congress ‘soft-hindutva’ image nothing but a political gimmick

The reality is that since 2014, when BJP first rose to power, most Hindu voters have supported Modi and the so-called secular parties like Congress have had to constantly fight to keep their space. However, it was at the end of 2017, after the BJP’s sweep in Uttar Pradesh, that the ecosystem finally took notice. This was the launch of “Janeu dhaari Shiv Bhakt Rahul Gandhi.”

Since then, the party has done everything it takes to maintain its soft Hindutva image. In 2018, Rahul Gandhi’s close aid Randeep Singh Surjewala declared that Congress has “Brahmin Samaj’s DNA” in its blood, and State Congress president Kamal Nath promised that a Gaushala will be built at every Panchayat in the state. Then the party went on to capitalize on the pilgrimage by Rahul Gandhi to Kailash Mansarovar.

Before the Madhya Pradesh elections in 2018, the party has put up posters with photographs showing Rahul Gandhi worshipping a Shiv Ling, with a snow-capped Himalayan mountain peak in the background.

This was, however, not the first time the ‘secular’ Congress tried to project a ‘Hindu Rahul Gandhi’ before an election. The highlight of Rahul Gandhi’s campaign during the Gujarat assembly election was ‘temple run’ of several temples in the state.

The same pattern was continued into Karnataka election campaign and it continuing until today. Recently, Congress veteran leader and MP ex-CM Kamal Nath was again embracing the strategy of using soft Hindutva to counter the BJP’s advantage and avoid being labeled as an ‘anti-Hindu party’ as the state heads for polls. 

Contrary to what the Congress tries to present itself as to woo voters, the party has not once but at every given opportunity openly gone on to display its anti-Hindu proclivities. From creating the bogey of ‘Hindu terror’ as a political strategy to berating Hindus on international platforms to hobnobbing with anti-Hindu and anti-India lobbying group, history is a testimony to the fact how Congress’ new found respect for Hinduism is just for political gimmicks.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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