VHP uses the internet to expand its support base, Bengal shows the way
Rising communal polarisation in India and a 'growing insecurity' among Hindus has given the Vishva Hindu Parishad a new goal.
The extreme right-wing organisation is now looking to make use of the internet to connect to the youth, and expand its base, particularly in the eastern and Northeastern regions of the country.
Bengal the test case
With its marginal presence in West Bengal, the VHP recently launched a state-specific website, aimed at promoting and endorsing its various activities and expanding its membership.
The VHP claims that within 10 days of its launch, the website https://vhpbengal.org/ has generated 'tremendous' response among the people of the state, particularly the youth.
Besides informing about the history and ideology of the VHP, its youth wing Bajrang Dal and women's wing Durga Vahini, the website contains videos, photos and articles, both in Bengali and English, about the 'atrocities' carried out on Hindus under the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government.
The website is also linked to the VHP's social network handles, and provides details of 'crimes', including the lynching and rape of Hindus by Muslims in Bengal in the last few years.
“Mamata Banerjee's Jihadi links are no longer hidden. Her unabashed politics of appeasement are driving Hindus to the brink. Today, their condition is similar to that of Hindus in Bangladesh. The website is aimed at reaching out to them and addressing their issues,” said the state VHP's organisational secretary, Sachindranath Sinha.
The website also carries videos and articles on the recent communal violence in Basirhat, North 24 Parganas district, in which a man was killed and several houses and shops gutted.
Sinha claimed the online membership drive has been successful, with over 1,000 people joining the VHP's ranks since its launch. A person can become a member simply by registering his or her personal details like name, address and mobile number.
At present, the VHP has a little over 11,000 members in the state, and it hopes the online drive will help it cross 50,000 mark within a year .
The VHP is also hopeful that the “fast rising” membership will help in achieving its three Bengal resolutions, adopted at its 'Sant Sammelan' in Kolkata on 13 July:
- No more Basirhat-like 'Jihadi' violence in Bengal.
- No non-Hindu persons in Hindu temple or Puja committees.
- No cow slaughter in Bengal.
Other target states
Buoyed by the response in Bengal, the VHP is planning to launch similar state-specific websites in other states, particularly in non-BJP ruled ones, to expand its virtual and real presence.
“The youth today are hooked on to the internet and social media, and a website is not just an apt way to reach out to them, but also educate them about the growing atrocities on Hindus as a result of appeasement politics pursued by the Trinamool and the Left,” said VHP joint secretary general Surendra Kumar Jain.
“The tremendous response that our digital initiative has received in Bengal is indicative of the people's growing resentment against such politics. We are in the process of launching such state-exclusive sites in other states as well.”
These other states include Tripura, Odisha and Bihar.
Going soft on Mehbooba
Meanwhile, the VHP, which had demanded the resignation of Mehbooba Mufti in the aftermath of the 10 July Amarnath Yatra attack, appears to be going soft on the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister.
While condemning Mehbooba's Friday remarks about the national flag, Jain said the VHP will no longer press for her resignation.
Addressing an event on Friday in Delhi, Mehbooba warned of repercussions if there was any tinkering with Article 35A of the Constitution, which empowers the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define 'permanent residents' and accord special rights and privileges to them.
“Any tinkering with the Article won't be acceptable. I won't hesitate in saying that nobody will even carry the corpse of the National Flag in Kashmir,” she had said.
Responding to these comments, Jain said: “We had demanded her resignation, but after going deep into the (Amarnath) incident, we found that she is not to be blamed for it. Moreover, she extended all cooperation to make the Yatra successful, despite the gruesome attack.
“However, we strongly condemn her remarks about the national flag. This is unacceptable. Perhaps, for the first time after becoming Chief Minister, she has made such caustic remarks. We hope she takes them back.”