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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Polls ahead, from Himachal to MP to Rajasthan, all hail Parshuram

Seen as way to Brahmin vote; Parshuram first emerged as an icon in time for UP polls

Written by Lalmani Verma | Lucknow |
Updated: May 6, 2022 8:24:45 am
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan unveiled a Parshuram statue. (Twitter)

On May 3, marking the Jayanti of Parshuram, considered the sixth incarnation of Vishnu, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan unveiled a Parshuram statue in Bhopal and announced that lessons on Parshuram would be included in the state’s school curriculum.

On the same day, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jairam Thakur laid the foundation of a Bhagwan Shree Parshuram Sanskrit Bhawan in Kangra.

Steadily gaining ground as a ‘Brahmin icon’, Parshuram is increasingly being hailed by political parties across states in their bid to woo the community, which finds itself largely in the wilderness in political stakes. It started in 2020, as the campaign for the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections was picking up, when both the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party promised to put up grand statues of Parshuram if voted to power. During a Vijay Rath Yatra ahead of the polls, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav prayed at a Parshuram temple built by a party leader and also shared photographs holding Pashuram’s farsa in his hand on social media.

CM Jairam Thakur lays the foundation of a Bhagwan Shree Parshuram Sanskrit Bhawan. (Twitter)

It was a bid to counter the BJP’s focus on the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya and capitalise on the Brahmin anger against the party, as the community felt sidelined by Thakur Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

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Now, with elections due in Madhya Pradesh in 2023 and in Himachal Pradesh later this, among other states, all parties are using Parshuram to make their political pitch to Brahmin voters. In Himachal, this could translate into rich pickings, given that 90% of its population is Hindu, of whom 50% are upper castes.

In Bihar, Leader of the Opposition Tejashwi Yadav marked May 3 with a Parshuram Jayanti Samaroh, which was attended by several Bhumihar Brahmins. The RJD leader promised to give them “respect” and “participation” in future elections. It was the first time that a senior RJD leader had attended a Parshuram Jayanti programme and was considered a step towards widening the party’s base beyond the traditional M-Y (Muslim-Yadav) voters.

The BJP’s Bihar unit has been organising such programmes.

In Rajasthan, where elections are due next year, there is a similar focus on Lord Parshuram. On May 1 in Jodhpur, ahead of Parshuram Jayanti, a Parshuram procession organised by independent social organisations was attended by leaders from all the parties, including the BJP, Congress and BSP. Members of these parties also attended programmes organised on the occasion such as Bhajan Sandhyan. The violence in Jodhpur was preceded by one such procession.

In Uttar Pradesh, while Mayawati did not send out any message on Parshuram Jayanti this year, Akhilesh issued a press release. The ruling BJP also did not organise any programme, but party leaders participated in events hosted by Brahmin groups on the occasion. Cabinet Minister Jitin Prasada and Rajya Sabha MP Shiv Pratap Shukla attended a programme organised by the Brahmin Chetra Parishad in Prayagraj.

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