The Sangh Parivar has started organising religious exercises in Ratlam Lok Sabha constituency, where a bypoll is due soon.
Sangh cadres have been holding Hanuman Chalisa recitals on Tuesdays and Saturdays since July 28 at several places in tribal-dominated Jhabua district. A state-level BJP functionary from Bhopal gave the go-ahead for the recitals during his visit to Jhabua last month.
Ratlam constituency, spread over Jhabua, Alirajpur and Ratlam districts, is considered crucial for the BJP because the party won it for the first time in 2014. The bypoll was necessitated by the death of Dilip Singh Bhuria, 71, who won the seat on the Congress ticket five times before switching sides in the late 1990s. He won the seat for the BJP in May 2014 by a margin of more than 1.08 lakh votes.
Jhabua-based Daulat Bhavsar, a member of the BJP’s state executive, said it was wrong to link the religious exercises to the election, adding: “What is wrong in mobilising Hindus?”.
“We are not holding religious gatherings under the BJP banner,’’ a party leader said, adding that the idea was to mobilise people in all 1,980 booths in three districts. The initial response has not been encouraging, sources said.
Ratlam has been a communally sensitive region. Jobat town in Alirajpur district observed a bandh last year when a Hindu girl and a Christian boy eloped, leading to protests by right-wing groups. The couple was forced to live separately by the district administration before the high court reunited them.