Bhopal: Ahead of crucial bypolls for 28 Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh on November 3, the Vishva Hindu Parishad, a leading member of Sangh Parivar, the ideological mentor of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is organising a Ram Mandir Shila Pujan Rath Yatra starting Tuesday in Bhind district of Gwalior-Chambal region. Some BJP leaders will also be part of the yatra.
Though the Opposition Congress says this is a desperate attempt by BJP to woo Hindu voters, the saffron party maintains it officially has nothing to do with the yatra.
The two-day religious yatra will kick-start from Dandroa Dham temple in Bhind and will cover the entire district. The Rath Yatra will travel through every panchayat of Gohad and Mehgaon area of the district, announced Vishva Hindu Parisad (VHP) leader Ram Milan Sharma and BJP leader Ramesh Dubey in a press conference on September 27.
Two Assembly seats in Bhind district--Gohad and Mehgaon--are going to bypolls with 26 other seats on November 3. Out of 28, as many as 16 Assembly seats are in the Gwalior-Chambal region.
“The Rath Yatra is being organised keeping Hindu sentiments in mind. It’s a dream of every Hindu to see the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya and now when it’s becoming reality. Everyone wants to contribute to it,” said VHP leader Ram Milan Sharma, who is organising the Rath Yatra. “Small events like Ram-Sita katha and religious preaching will also take place along with the yatra,” he added.
Organisers informed that the vehicles, which will be used as rath (chariot) and will carry bricks made of eight metals including silver, will be sent to various directions in Bhind district.
However, he emphasised that the Rath Yatra has nothing to do with the bypoll or any party even though a few BJP leaders have shown their interest to be a part of the event.
Earlier, BJP leader and Minister Govind Singh Rajput had organised Ram Shila Rath Yatra in Surkhi Assembly seat of Sagar district to gather support for the party. The BJP also held another four-day religious event -- Narmada Kalash Yatra -- in Sanwer Assembly seat of Indore in support of its candidate Tulsi Silawat, a cabinet minister in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led government. Social distancing norms were reportedly violated during the Kalash Yatra.
Also Read: BJP to Launch 10-day ‘Ram Rath Yatra’ Ahead of By-Polls in Madhya Pradesh
Both the leaders -- Rajput and Silwat -- had switched to the BJP from the Congress along with 20 other MLAs led by Rajya Sabha MP Jyotiraditya Scindia, which subsequently led to the fall of the Kamal Nath government in the State.
WAR OF WORDS BETWEEN BJP AND CONGRESS
Making a sharp remark over the Rath Yatra, Congress leader from Bhind, Jaishree Ram Baghel said, “The BJP is using religion and communal sentiments to win the bypolls because they have nothing else to convince the voters.”
He further said that the BJP was trying to divert the voters' attention from real issues like unemployment, development, and starvation. “The BJP has only two or three things to win the election--Pakistan, religion, nationalism, etc. But the voters are mature enough and they will teach them a lesson in the forthcoming bypolls,” Baghel said.
Congress spokesperson and Gwalior-Chambal media in-charge, KK Mishra said that the BJP is treating lord Ram as an election winning machine.
“BJP leaders are facing a huge backlash from the voters. In some places voters have shouted them away during the campaign. Hence, under the banner of religious events, they are trying to reach out to the voters, but they will fail,” Mishra said, adding that such religious events will likely take place in Gwalior and Morena too.
Hitting back at the Congress, BJP Spokesperson Rajnesh Aggrawal dismissed the claim about the party’s involvement in the Rath Yatra. “The party has nothing to do with the Rath Yatra, it’s purely a religious event,” he said.
POLITICIANS PUTTING PEOPLE’S LIVES AT RISK
While a senior journalist from Gwalior, Ravi Shekhar emphasised that despite the massive surge in Covid-19 cases in the region in the last three weeks, the district administrations have turned a blind eye while allowing political and religious gatherings. However, such gatherings have been prohibited by the Union Home Ministry during the pandemic.
“No sooner the BJP held a three-day membership drive from August 22 to 24, where thousands of people from Bhind, Morena and Gwalior participated, the region reported nearly 35-40% surge in Covid-19 cases within a week after the rally,” said Shekhar, adding that in the last six days, 30 people have died in Gwalior due to the pandemic.
In addition, former Chief Minister Kamal Nath also held a massive rally in Gwalior last week, keeping corona guidelines at bay. “Politicians are just putting common people’s life in danger and ironically, the administration is supporting them,” Shekhar added.