Bricks and bouquets for Cong Hindutva in MP

Bhopal, Feb 1
From downright condemnation to vocal support, the Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh is lapping up all thats coming its way through politics of soft Hindutva.

Much of the criticism is coming from left of the Centre parties.

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From the day he took oath as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Nath has been wearing his religious identity on the sleeve. "Hindutva is not the sole proprietary concern of the BJP, " he has said several times.

Announcing setting up hundreds of gaushalas (cow shelters), invocation of NSA against someone accused of cow smuggling and slaughter and regular visits to pilgrim towns to offer liberal donations, every action seems to be aimed at displacing BJP as Hindutva flagbearer.

A plan for development of Ram Van Gaman Path, the mythological path Lord Ram took along with Sita and Lakshman from Chitrakoot to Dandakaranya, is being executed.

Even on Friday the Chief Minister was busy announcing a major development plan at Amarkantak the source of holy river Narmada. Just a few days ago the government announced a panel to build a Sita temple in Sri Lanka, a promise that Kamal Nath's predecessor Shivraj Singh Chouhan had made a decade ago and forgotten.

The BJP is squirming over each such move and reacting angrily. BJP leader and former minister Vishwas Sarang said, "the Congress used to describe Ram as a work of fiction, it once talked of breaking the Ram Setu. Now it has suddenly found Hanuman worth praying to. Hanuman and Hindutva are just political issues for Congress. Hanuman can't be pleased with such gimmicks."

Chief Minister's Media Coordinator Narendra Saluja claims 'Kamal Nath has for long been a Hanuman devotee. He got a 101 feet tall statue of Hanuman erected in Chhindwara.

The latest move to hold a programme to recite Hanuman Chaalisa 1.25 crore times through a journalist-turned godman and his disciples and air it in 56 countries on Mahatma Gandhi's martyrdom day on Thursday was greeted with many furrowed brows. Some Congress members wondered whether such programmed organised with fanfare would send the right message among the party's supporters who wish the government doesn't mix politics with religion.

Both the programmes were held at Minto Hall that had housed the state assembly for over 40 years. Vijay Shankar Mehta, who conducted the recitation did refer to questions about link between Gandhi and Hanuman and more importantly between Kamal Nath and himself. There was no worthwhile answer coming forth though.

Simultaneously the government has been opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) and backing loud protests over the issue from all quarters for more than 50 days. The BJP which had cut across the communal barrier to garner Muslim votes in the Lok Sabha election is very likely to cede that space back to the Congress.

Hindutva, however, has no guarantee for electoral success. It has turned out to be a calculated gamble with a heavy loss during the Lok Sabha elections in May, last year. While it helped him win some friends among the Hindus the failure to sustain the electoral momentum even for six months left the party brooding for quite some time. The state will have to wait till after the elections to the local bodies and municipal corporations take place by May to know the worth of soft Hindutva Kamal Nath has followed assiduously.