Gujarat polls: BJP in big trouble as even Hindutva outfits are upset with it
Various organisations of the Hindutva camp are not happy with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and this is affecting the party’s campaign in poll-bound Gujarat, which is often referred to as the laboratory of Hindutva.
There is a silent campaign underway in the areas where organisations like VHP, Durga Vahini and Bajrang Dal are influential. This campaign questions the working of the BJP working under Shah and Modi. The annoyance of the cadres of these organizations is leading the people to draw the inference that even the RSS is not happy with the state of affairs.
The messages being circulated are quite pointed. They ask why VHP leaders like Pravin Togadia are not campaigning for the saffron party like they did in 2002 when Modi had emerged as the poster boy of Hindutva after the anti-Muslim pogrom. How Modi sidelined Togadia after becoming chief minister is well known. Sources disclosed that one of the main factors behind this anger is the BJP not giving any leverage to the VHP on the Ram Mandir issue.
“The cadres are particularly annoyed with self-styled spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar hogging the limelight with his recent statements on resolving the Ayodhya dispute. They are questioning his locus standi and a majority of them see him as Modi’s man,” pointed an observer living in one of the VHP strongholds in the state.
“The cadres feel that all their effort to build the movement has gone waste with others hijacking the agenda. They say that they were the ones who had braved the state crackdown when they had collected bricks and funds for constructing the temple,” he added.
He further said that the general perception among these elements is that the BJP is being opportunistic and resorting to a policy of use and throw. They believe that Ravi Shankar has been roped in to make political statements keeping in view the upcoming polls in Karnataka and they are being ignored at his cost.
The second factor behind the unrest is that majority of the die-hard VHP, Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini cadres are Patels and it is well known how the Patels have fallen apart with BJP in the last two years on the issue of reservation in jobs and educational institutions.
The Patels are particularly agitated over the humiliation that they have faced in terms of the police crackdown. There are messages being circulated that convey to the voters, “If you vote for those who ordered lathi charge on VHP and Bajrang Dal activists, even Lord Ram will not be able to save the Hindus.”
These elements are also trying to generate fears among the electorate that if BJP wins in Gujarat then Amit Shah will be the new chief minister. The Patels are aware of the rivalry between Shah and former chief minister Anandiben Patel and see his hand in her being removed as the chief minister of the sate before Vijay Rupani took over.
Anandiben’s departure is seen by many as snatching of political power from the Patels. The message being circulated reads, “There is news from Kamalam (state BJP headquarters) that if BJP wins, Amit Shah will quit his Rajya Sabha seat and be made the chief minister of Gujarat. Now say who will you vote for".
The agitated cadres of the Hindutva groups are also asking the people not to be swayed by the BJP propaganda as the day of the polling approaches. A message being circulated reads, “According to you who is in danger ---the Hindus or the BJP ? If you have understood then please share the message.”
These workers of Hindutva on the ground level are further reminding the people that it was a folly to have allowed the BJP to remove Keshubhai Patel as the chief minister and get Modi installed in his place in 2001. Another message that is being spread by them reads , “The folly committed at the time of Keshubapa should not be committed again.”
Sources revealed that a meeting had been convened at the RSS headquarters last week where the leaders of various Hindutva organisations were to be delegated duties for ensuring a saffron victory in the state once again. But the heads of these organisations made it clear that they have not been getting substantial funds because all the funds are being collected by the BJP alone. Sources further pointed that they also underlined that with the BJP not giving them space there was also the problem of drawing fresh youth into their fold for training and indoctrination.
On the other hand, sources say that the top VHP leadership is going around gathering archival material, mainly in the form of video clips on the promises that Modi has made to various ‘crucial’ segments like the farmers, youths, small entrepreneurs and businessmen over the last several years. How and when they intend using this material is yet unknown.
With such rumblings of discontent going on in the Hindutva fold, the emphatic response Rahul Gandhi got at his public meeting in the VHP heartland of Nikol in Ahmedabad does not come as a surprise. A large number of Patel women had attended his meeting there on Friday. Nikol is a typical right wing stronghold and it is dominated by upper castes and the powerful Patels. This is an area from where reports of the militant Hindutva cadres being trained have repeatedly emerged over the last several years. Prior to this, senior Congress had kept away from this place knowing well that the response would be lukewarm.