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Kumbh Country Turns into Battleground of Politics Ahead of LS Polls

Saurabh Sharma |
From Union Minister Smriti Irani to SP rebel Shivpal Yadav, every political leader has been trying to capitalise on this religious event, which has received a footfall of 12.5 crore people since it began on January 15.
Kumbh Country Turns into Battleground of Politics Ahead of LS Polls

Image Credit: Sumit Kumar

Prayagraj: Bal Mukund, a middle-aged man with long beard from the city of Prayagraj has been given the responsibility to keep the cut out of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Arail Ghat clean as it has become a trending selfie spot for the pilgrims visiting the Kumbh Mela.

Mukund, a part time e-rickshaw driver who flaunts a saffron robe and a badge with a picture of none other than the PM, said that it is his duty to spread the good work done by the BJP in the last five years in the centre and also in Uttar Pradesh in the last two years.

“I am doing this on my own and no one has asked me. In fact, people in the Prayagraj BJP committee do not know me. I am a fan and a citizen of this country who is doing his work. I ride the e-rickshaw during the peak hours and rest of the time I am here helping pilgrims to click pictures and know more about Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he said while giving a new year calendar and a small book of BJP’s work to a pilgrim.

When asked about where he got the published material of the party (BJP) to distribute amongst the pilgrims, Mukund told NewsClick that he got this from the temporary party office made in the Kumbh Mela ground.


Image Credit: Sumit Kumar

It is to be noted that the Kumbh country on the holy banks of the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati river is more than a mega religious festival for the political parties in Uttar Pradesh, as almost all the parties excluding the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have been stationing here in a bid to convince voters ahead of the crucial Lok Sabha polls.

The political parties in the state have realised it very well that the best arena to convince the masses before the Lok Sabha elections is the Kumbh country. According to the government, the place has witnessed a footfall of over  12.5 crore people ever since its start on January 15.

From Union Minister Smriti Zubin Irani to Samajwadi Party rebel Shivpal Singh Yadav, every political leader has been trying to capitalise on this religious event. Buzz is also going around that the newly appointed Uttar Pradesh East Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is scheduled to visit the Kumbh and take a holy dip in Sangam (confluences of Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati), along with her brother and party chief Rahul Gandhi any day after February 11.

BJP Camp Most Luxurious

On visiting the camps of political parties in the Kumbh Mela, NewsClick found that the BJP camp in the mela ground had the biggest area and was no less than a temporary luxurious hotel. While, the camp of Congress Seva Dal lacked facilities but the cadre there was more confident and enthusiastic to do anything for the party.

Also Read: Kumbh 2019: Where are the Much-Hyped Facilities, ask Devotees

When asked about the luxurious facilities as well as the sprawling size of the camp on the ground, BJP’s Prayagraj president Awadhesh Gupta, “See, it is not any small event, it is a very big event at the world level and a very big thing for the party which has come to power in the state after so long. And what is wrong in telling the people that arrangements have been made for them in the mela by our beloved Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.”

The district party president further said that, “This festival and its customs represent the traditions of Hindu religion which were neglected by all the governments in the country and only BJP has worked to save our religion.”


Image Credit: Sumit Kumar

Boasting about the efforts made by the government, Gupta said, “It is the first time in the country that any government held a cabinet meeting at Kumbh and every minister participated after taking holy dip in the pious Ganga.”

It should also be noted that other than the various political parties, branch outfits of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) are also camping in the tent country and are holding regular meetings with their cadres, making strategies for the coming Lok Sabha polls.

RSS Event Boycotted by Unhappy Saints

However, the saints/seers this time are not all happy with the politicisation of the Kumbh Mela. A few days back, they even created a ruckus in a programme chaired by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat by questioning him about the date of the Ram Temple’s construction. The RSS’s event was boycotted by the Akhara Parishad as well, which is miffed with the present government over the delay in the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

Also Read: Ram Temple: The Farce of A ‘Movement’

Shree Digambar Keshav Giri, 68, a prominent naga baba associated with the Juna Akhara while puffing from his chillum said, “Gone are days when Kumbh was about religion or a festival of faith.” Giri further added, “This time are there more hoardings of Modi, Yogi and Nandi instead of the board and banners of Lord Shiva and prominent saints. They (government) have commercialised this event for their own benefit and it is not acceptable for me at any cost. I am not attending any meeting or brainstorming session like that of 2013 Kumbh. There are many other saints who too have neglected other activities here and are only doing the things which a saint should do.”

It may be mentioned that earlier, the Dharm Sansad (religious parliament) jointly held by the VHP and RSS had given their nod for the candidature of Narendra Modi for the post of Prime Minister but it is being made clear by that this time nothing of that sort would happen in Kumbh.

Swami Shankar, a young baba who has earned the moniker of Digital Baba for his tech savviness, said that political parties should refrain from taking advantages of such gatherings and events as it is not just related to the faith of one community.

“If you want to publicise the efforts for pilgrims or do any kind of public relation then please leave the Kumbh country and go somewhere else to do it as no one has the right to manipulate with the faith of any person. Political parties should not intervene in this. If people can bring you to power then they can even uproot you from power, politicians should keep this thing in their mind,” he said.

Read More: Shiksha Mitras Take Protests to Kumbh to Get CM Adityanath’s Attention

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