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LUCKNOW: As Uttar Pradesh is heading for a high-voltage election, one can see prominently visible symbols of Hindutva in the campaign pitch of prominent non-BJP parties. Has the success that the Hindutva card has brought to the BJP in UP, first during the Ram temple movement and then after the ascendance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has compelled the opposition parties to tread the same path in the run-up to the 2022 assembly elections? Political analysts answer in affirmative.
So, while the BSP chief Mayawati ‘promised’ at her first election rally in Lucknow on Saturday that she won’t stop the development works launched in Ayodhya, Varanasi and Mathura, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi laced her speech at the launch of her campaign in Varanasi with Durga Saptshati.
Even SP chief Akhilesh Yadav is scheduled to launch his Vijay Yatra on Tuesday from the banks of the Ganga in Kanpur. Earlier, addressing a public gathering in Saharanpur, Akhilesh referred to holy book Gita.
He also had been on the temple run for the past few months, visiting Kamadgiri Temple in Chitrakoot, Vimalnath Temple at Farrukhabad and Buddha Temple at Shravasti to name a few. The Aam Admi Party, which is entering the UP assembly poll fray for the first time also began its campaign from Ayodhya.
Political observers say that while Congress started having a brush with soft Hindutva since Gujarat’s assembly polls in 2017 and continued in subsequent elections, what came as a surprise was BSP supremo Mayawati’s statement that works undertaken by the BJP government in Ayodhya, Mathura and Varanasi would continue unhindered if BSP formed the government.
While former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi was on the temple run during Gujarat elections and later during Lok Sabha elections of 2019, Priyanka, too, started Congress election campaign by visiting temples in Varanasi before her speech on Sunday.
With a tilak and sandalwood paste on her forehead and a Rudraksh bead necklace and sacred thread tied on her right hand, she began her address at the Kisan Nyay Rally in Varanasi on Sunday by reciting a verse from Durga Saptashati as she said she was on fast. She even chanted ‘Jai Mata Di’ before beginning her speech.
On Priyanka’s new avatar, AICC secretary Rajesh Tiwari, who conducted the Kisan Nyay Rally in Varanasi, said that what BJP had been doing was a propaganda, while Congress leaders, including former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, have been visiting temples and other religious places.
SP leader Juhie Singh said for BJP, offering prayers was always for camera while with her party it has been a routine affair. “Our party never brought offerings at temple in public domain unlike the BJP leaders. SP leaders have always been visiting temples,” she said.
While the BJP has always gone full throttle on its Hindutva plank, pledging grand Lord Ram Temple at Ayodhya in every election manifesto, BSP chief Mayawati’s shift with the mention of Mathura, Varanasi and Ayodhya in her speech is something what has left the political pundits thinking.
“The development work underway in Mathura, Ayodhya and Varanasi under BJP government will continue unhindered if the BSP forms the government,” she had said.
BSP’s shift in strategy actually was visible with its general secretary Satish Mishra addressing a series of prabuddh sammelans. While before his address at all the religious places, Mishra offered prayers at the temples there and went on to praise Hindu gods and goddesses during his speeches.
Mishra even promised a Grand Lord Ram Temple once his party came to power, a promise that BSP chief Mayawati also hinted at.
When asked about this shift, Satish Mishra said that BJP has probably forgotten what work Mayawati-led government did between 2007 and 2012. Be it beautification of ghats at Saryu, or sewer lines at Vrindavan were all done by BSP government. Hindutva is not the copyright of BJP.
Deputy CM Keshav Maurya, when asked abut the change in opposition’s strategy, said that they should join the BJP and the party would later think about their future.
When asked whether ‘Hindutva was the copyright of the BJP’, Maurya said that it was not so but one can see that how these Opposition leaders are changing colour just like chameleon after seeing the people’s mandate.

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