BJP divided over temple strategy

The BJP seems to be clearly divided on the strategy of taking up the Ram Mandir issue ahead of the crucial electoral battles while Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s supporters want him to desist from identifying with the ongoing Mahakumbh at Allahabad which they feel is swarming with hardcore Hindutva overtones.

With Mr Modi, a prime ministerial aspirant, expected to visit the Mahakumbh next week, a section within the BJP feels that his visit can weaken his pro-governance and pro-development plank and will dent his carefully crafted soft Hindutva image. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, while participating in the Dharma Sansad at the ongoing Mahakumbh in Allahabad on Thursday, without referring to Mr Modi said, “People know what is in your heart. The whole country is echoing with the same voice,” referring to the clamour for Mr Modi. He also called the Gujarat CM as his friend. Clamour within the Sangh Parivar, including the BJP’s rank and file, is growing to project Mr Modi as the PM candidate. This, despite the BJP’s key allies aversion to his projection for the top post.
Sources disclosed Mr Modi’s plan to visit Mahakumbh got postponed after reports started coming that the Sangh-backed Dharma Sansad will endorse Mr Modi for the PM post. Mr Modi, it was learnt, was asked to visit the Mahakumbh once the Dharma Sansad gets concluded. The Dharma Sansad, a gathering of religious leaders, has given a call for construction of Ram Mandir at the disputed site in Ayodhya. Mr Modi’s supporters feel his visit to the Mahakumbh at this juncture will dent his “pro-development” image and the Opposition will also exploit his visit. Also, a section within the BJP feels reviving the Hindutva agenda ahead of the crucial Assembly polls and next year’s LS polls might affect the party’s poll prospects.
This section feels that the BJP’s governance and development plank has benefited it and even though the party claims Ram Mandir as one of its core issues, it should not revive the issue as the matter is sub-judice and it cannot be considered as a poll plank anymore.
This section also feels that the Opposition will use it against the BJP which might dent its poll prospects.
Mr Bhagwat has backed the VHP demand that a bill should be introduced in the coming Budget Session of Parliament to hand over the disputed land for the construction of Ram Mandir to the Shri Ram Janambhoomi Nyas.
VHP leader Giriraj Kishore and Ashok Singhal also joined the “Modi-for PM” chorus, saying like Gujarat the whole country can “benefit from his leadership as there has been tremendous development in the state under his rule.” But Mr Modi supporters don’t want him to be associated with the Sangh-backed Dharma Sansad or the call to revive the Ram Mandir issue.

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