Updated: October 20, 2018 7:16:04 am
The BJP on Friday received a shot in its arm in election-bound Telangana after Swami Paripoornananda, pontiff of Kakinada Sree Peetham in Andhra Pradesh who had been externed from Hyderabad for alleged inflammatory remarks, joined the party. Amid speculation that he will lead the party’s campaign in Telangana for the December 7 elections, BJP president Amit Shah on Friday expressed confidence that his induction will boost the party’s prospects in the polls.
N V S S Prabhakar, the BJP MLA from Uppal in Hyderabad who first introduced Amit Shah to Paripoornananda in September, said, “He will definitely play a major role (in polls). The BJP Parliamentary Board is meeting in New Delhi on Saturday to discuss how to utilise his services. A decision on whether to ask him to contest (the elections) will also be taken tomorrow.”
In New Delhi, Shah told the media that Paripoornananda has made big contributions in the fields of social service and religious activities in south India and his presence will strengthen the party, especially in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. “His joining the BJP will infuse new energy into the party and boost its election prospects in Telangana,” Shah, flanked by Paripoornananda and party general secretary Ram Madhav, told reporters.
Paripoornananda said he will work as a BJP “sevak” with zero expectation and spread the party’s message to southern parts of the country.
Described by some as the “Yogi Adityanath of the South”, Paripoornananda said, “I will work 24×7. I need nothing because Telugu people have given me a lot.”
A strong proponent of Hindutva, the 46-year-old leader had recently launched devotional TV channel ‘Bharat Today’, which is promoted by NRIs, doctors and other professionals.
He courted controversy in July this year by launching a protest against film critic Kathi Mahesh’s comments on Hindu gods and the Ramayan. As the protest intensified, with support coming in from Hindutva groups, Hyderabad Police first externed Mahesh and two days later externed Paripoornananda also.
Enraged, the RSS, Bajrang Dal and VHP, as also BJP activists, came out in support of the priest.
“He was already very popular but became more popular, especially among the Hindutva groups, after he protested against Kathi Mahesh,” a political commentator in Telangana said. “When the High Court at Hyderabad lifted the ban imposed by police and he entered Hyderabad on September 4, thousands of Hindutva activists gave him a rousing welcome and rode alongside on the Vijayawada-Hyderabad highway, bringing the city to a halt.”
Paripoornananda is said to have started displaying his power at this point and asserted that he was ready to “sacrifice” himself to protect dharma, and BJP’s state leaders reportedly started sending overtures.
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