Bhopal: In a bid to counter the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and restore its pro-Hindu image among voters, the Madhya Pradesh Congress has decidedly turned saffron ahead of the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
From recitals of the Hanuman Chalisa, sending 11 silver bricks for the foundation of Ram Temple, turning Twitter handles saffron and crediting former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi for deciding to unlock the Babri Masjid in 1985, Madhya Pradesh Congress leaders are doing everything in their power to prove their affection for everything Hindu.
Former chief ministers of the state – Digvijay Singh and Kamal Nath – claimed that the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya was the dream of Rajiv Gandhi. “In 1985 Rajiv Gandhi laid the foundation stone of the temple, which is taking shape today. If he would have been alive, he would have been witness to it,” said ex-CM Kamal Nath.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Congress General Secretary, in-charge of Uttar Pradesh and Rajiv’s daughter, said on Tuesday said that occasion should symbolise national unity, fraternity and cultural harmony. Ram is the “strength of the oppressed and the voiceless,” she added.
On July 3, Nath urged congressmen to recite the Hanuman Chalisa in their homes the next day. In response, a large number of party members did the same and posted pictures on social media on Tuesday.
Several Congress leaders and former ministers, including former union minister Arun Yadav and his MLA brother Sachin Yadav, have posted their videos reciting the Hanuman Chalisa on social media. Former minister P.C. Sharma, who has COVID-19 and is under treatment, also posted a video from the hospital.
Nath too recited the verses at his house in Bhopal. “We recited the Hanuman Chalisa for the betterment of the state and its prosperity,” he told the press. He demanded to know why the BJP had a problems with the Congress’ attempts at appropriation. “Do they have a patent on religion or on Ram?” he asked.
A day earlier, Nath announced that the state’s Congress unit sent 11 silver bricks for the foundation of the Ram Temple. “With the contribution of party workers we are sending 11 silver bricks to Ayodhya and it will be placed in the foundation of the Ram Temple,” he had said.
Stressing on the steadfastness of his faith, Nath said he had constructed the Hanuman Temple in his parliamentary constituency of Chhindwara and had ordered for the construction of 1,000 cow shelters in the state. He said that he cleared all the hurdles and allocated funds for the construction of Ram Van Gaman Path, adding that he also approved Rs five crore for the construction of Sita Mata Mandir in Sri Lanka. Development projects related to Mahakal and Omkarshwer Temple were also finalised, he said. “I don’t talk, but work,” said Nath.
With by-elections to 27 assembly seats in the 230-strong MP Assembly expected soon, many believe the Congress’ political strategy is to not allow the BJP to project it as a party given to minority appeasement which does not keep Hindu sentiments in mind.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the Congress initiative was a political gimmick.
“Senior Congress leaders like Kapil Sibbal questioned the existence of Lord Ram and now the same party is trying to change their image as Ram bhakts (devotees). This is a political gimmick; they realised that Lord Ram is a matter of faith for Indians and they can’t oppose it,” said BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal.
The BJP alleged that this was mere posturing aimed at winning the by-polls due in the state. “If Congress leaders really have faith in Lord Ram, what is the need for publicising it on social media? They are doing all this to win the by-election but people are wise enough to understand the difference between real and reel,” he added.
The ruling BJP announced that it would observe ‘Ramotsav’ on August 5, and asked District Collectors to hold recitals of the Hanuman Chalisa in Government-owned temples of the state.