‘Fancy Dress Hindutva’: Priyanka Gandhi Kick Starts Congress’ Temple Run A Year Ahead Of 2022 UP Elections
Congress’ temple run in UP begins 12 months ahead of the assembly election.
The first phase of the 2017 assembly election in Uttar Pradesh began on 11 February that year. Almost exactly four years later, on Wednesday (10 February), a year ahead of the next assembly election in the state, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra visited the famous Shakambhari Devi Temple near Saharanpur before addressing a ‘kisan mahapanchayat’ in Chilkana, kick starting Congress’ temple run.
A day later (11 February), the Congress general secretary, clad in a maroon kurta and wearing rudraksh beads, took a dip at the Triveni Sangam (confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers) at Prayagraj, visited the Mankameshwar Temple in the city and met Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati.
She was seen taking the oars and rowing the boat she was in.
Vadra’s temple hopping, which is only beginning, is likely to follow Rahul Gandhi’s strategy of frequenting temples ahead of elections seen in other states, something that the BJP has called “fancy dress Hindutva” in the past.
Ahead of the 2017 Gujarat assembly election, Rahul Gandhi had visited 27 temples across the state, and followed a similar strategy in Karnataka in 2018, where he visited around 20 temples before the election.
When accused of ‘soft Hindutva’ during the Gujarat election, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, “Rahul Gandhi is janeu-dhari Hindu.”
Weeks before the elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the Congress leader went on a pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar. The Congress had formed governments in all the three states after the elections. During this election season, he emerged as a Kashmiri Brahmin with Dattatreya gotra.
Rahul Gandhi’s temple run continued in 2019, ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, as he visited many temples across different states.
With Vadra taking over party affairs in UP in 2019, the temple run baton has been passed on to her as the Congress gears up for the upcoming election.
In fact, this isn’t Vadra’s first temple run. She had visited many temples in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha election. On 20 March that year, during the last leg of her three-day Ganga Yatra, she had had darshan at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency.
Congress leaders have defended election season temple run as an effort to shake off the party’s anti-majority image, a result of minorityism practised by the United Progressive Alliance governments between 2004 and 2014.
But it hasn’t helped the Congress achieve that aim, political scientists say, adding that the ‘soft Hindutva’ project of the Congress has only intensified amid the growing consolidation of the Hindu vote in favour of the BJP.
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