Prime Minister Narendra Modi may speak of a ‘development’ agenda for Uttar Pradesh ahead of state assembly elections due next year, but the BJP’s parivar is carrying out a parallel agenda of ‘Pro-Hindutva’. Issues like the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya and the alleged ‘exodus’ of Hindus from Kairana have become the core of this strategy.
The two issues have been center stage for the parivar in the last few weeks.
BJP MP Yogi Adityanath recently remarked that no one can stop a Ram temple from being constructed in Ayodhya. Adityanath has often raised this demand in the past but his latest remark assumes significance as it comes soon after the controversy over Kairana ‘exodus’ in western UP.
The local BJP MP Hukum Singh claimed that 346 Hindus families had to flee the town over past few the years and although the state government probed the list provided by Singh and rubbished the allegations, the BJP continues to be on the offensive: its fact finding committee of MPs and MLAs who visited Kairana, backed Singh’s list in its report which they gave to UP Governor Ram Naik and demanded a CBI inquiry into the matter.
For over two weeks now, the BJP has been criticized by the entire opposition for trying to polarise voters in western UP along communal lines by hyping up the Kairana issue. At the national executive meet in Allahabad, the party discussed Kairana. During the two day-meet, Kairana received more media coverage than the Narendra Modi government’s achievements in its first two years.
Meanwhile, sources in the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) said that Adityanath had attended the ‘Sant Sammelan’ organised in Ayodhya last week to mark the birth anniversary of Nritya Gopal Das, head of Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, a body formed to look after the Ram temple construction in Ayodhya. Adityanath met Nritya Gopal Das at the sammelan where sants from across the country had assembled and unanimously resolved that construction of the Ram temple should be started at the earliest.
Another BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj too has been supporting the demand for the Ram temple. However, at the BJP national meet held in Allahabad recently, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad claimed that the Ram temple was not a poll agenda issue although it was an article of faith with the party.
BJP MLA from Sardhana in Meerut, Sangeet Singh Som, who was named in a case for delivering provocative speech with Hukum Singh at a Jat mahapanchayat before the Muzaffaranagar riots, announced a “nirbhay yatra’ from Sardhana to Kairana, last week, to spread a message of ‘safety’ among Hindus residing in that region. While party maintained its distance from the yatra ‘officially’, Som took out yatra and and has not faced any action from the party. The yatra was, however, stopped by the administration.
VHP leaders have also voiced concern over the decreasing number of Hindus in comparison to Muslims in UP. After the Kairana episode, the VHP has directed its cadre in UP to share information about places where Hindus have turned into a ‘minority’ in the past few years. The VHP is an offshoot of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) but the latter has not has not stopped VHP leaders like Sadhvi Prachi from making provocative statements like ‘Beti bachao-bahu lao’.
Prachi, at an event in Lucknow on June 10, had given a call to Bajrang Dal workers to prevent “Love Jihad” and take a pledge for “Bahu lao-beti bahcao”. Sadhvi had also said that Muslim girls live more happily after marrying into Hindu family.