Ahead Of Madhya Pradesh Polls, Congress Chalks Out Religious Itinerary

Madhya Pradesh Elections: Congress’s plan of action has had some in-house critics as well.

Bhopal:

The Congress in Madhya Pradesh has asked its units across the state to organise special events and prayers on the occasions of Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti, evoking mocking guffaws from the BJP camp. The ruling BJP is celebrating Ram Navami with special events in religious places like Chitrakoot and Orchha. Earthen lamps will be lit in every Ram temple in the state.

The Congress, meanwhile, has sent missives to all its block-level units asking that programmes like recitation of Ram Katha and enactment of Ram Leela be held on Ram Navami. On Hanuman Jayanti, there should be readings from the Sundar Kand and Hanuman Chalisa, directed Chandraprabhash Shekhar, vice-president in-charge of the organization, in his letters.

Senior leader and former Chief Minister Kamal Nath will also issue a message on Ram Navmi and hold a religious programme on Hanuman Jayanti at Chhindwara.

The ruling BJP has ridiculed the move as “hypocrisy”, declaring that Congress leaders had termed Lord Ram as an imaginary character. Assembly polls are due in the state next year.

The Congress’s plan of action has had some in-house critics as well.

Bhopal MLA Arif Masood questioned the letter, saying, “What was the need for our party to start this new tradition of issuing directions to all its units to celebrate festivals of any community? “Why aren’t similar letters being issued for celebrating Ramzan and observing Good Friday and Easter also?”

By issuing such letters the Congress is giving the ruling BJP ammunition to target it, he said. “Such developments inclined towards celebration of festivals of one community are bound to pain the minorities,” he added.

Senior BJP leader and home minister Dr Narottam Mishra took a dig at the MLA saying, “This is nothing but ‘acche din’ as Congress leaders are going to the temple… Masood is not able to digest that Congress leaders who used to organise ‘Iftar’ parties are now visiting temples”.

The Madhya Pradesh Congress has been much criticised for pursuing what has been dubbed “soft Hindutva”.

Ahead of the last state elections in 2018, the CPM had warned that “If the Congress thinks it can defeat the BJP by … soft Hindutva tactics, it is mistaken”.

“The attempt to prove that the Congress was genuinely more Hindu than the BJP witnessed a flurry of temple visits by Rahul Gandhi in the three states; the manifesto of the Congress in Madhya Pradesh talked of ‘gaushalas’, commercial sale of ‘gau mutra’ and building a ‘Ram Van Gaman Path Yatra,” an editorial in the CPM mouthpiece “People’s Democracy” had read.

Two years later — after its government had collapsed with the defection of Jyotiradiya Scindia and his loyalists — the Congress was seen pursuing a “Har Har Mahadev, Ghar Ghar Mahadev” campaign, distributing miniature idols of Lord Shiva or Shivlings among voters ahead of by-polls to 25 assembly seats.

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