Many in BJP unhappy over VHP yatra

With the Vishwa Hindu Parishad determined to go ahead with its contentious 20-day Ayodhya yatra, differences have started emerging within the BJP. A section of party leaders feel the VHP planned the yatra after consulting Gujarat CM Narendra Modi in an attempt to polarise the UP votebank on communal lines.

This move, these BJP leaders fear, might boomerang. “The yatra might not only consolidate the Muslim votebank in favour of the Congress; but the BJP might lose a large chunk of liberal Hindu votes that was tilting towards Modi on the issue of good governance,” a senior party leader said.
While the top BJP leadership has little choice but to officially support the yatra, progressive sections in the BJP feel it should tactfully distance itself from the VHP on this issue.
With the general election just eight months away, votebank politics has begun in UP. The BJP, which has only 10 MPs, will be trying to increase its tally to at least 50, sources said. The VHP yatra appears to be aimed at “creating a divide and polarising the votebank”, and BJP hawks hope it would “consolidate its committed voters, who had begun shifting to the Congress, SP and BSP”, a senior party leader said. These hardliners see the yatra as a “cautious reviv-al of the Hindutva agenda”.
Other BJP leaders are, however, sceptical, and fear this will shift the focus away from “good governance” and put the party back on Ram Mandir track. They note that even at the peak of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement in the early 1990s, the party got only 87 LS seats, of which 20 were from UP. It was only with Atal Behari Vajpayee at the helm that the BJP crossed over 180 LS seats, including 50 in UP.
These moderate leaders feel a “revival of the Ram Mandir issue” might “drive away new voters, who are looking at a government which can provide economic stability and good governance”.

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