Election Watch MP: Why is Congress taking a Hindutva approach in its manifesto?

Barring the usual mudslinging match, many were disappointed with the bad strategies of Congress which could have taken advantage of the anti-incumbency wave in MP, but instead came out with a soft Hindutva approach.

Congress Manifesto
The biggest parties in the running for Madhya Pradesh elections have released their manifestos. Barring the usual mudslinging match, many were disappointed with the bad strategies of Congress which could have taken advantage of the anti-incumbency wave in MP after demonetisation and GST busted small economies in the state and scams after scams left a bad taste in the public’s mouth.
BJP’s Manifesto
In the main manifesto titled “Samridh Madhya Pradesh Drishti Patra”, BJP promised to distribute loans of Rs 40,000 crore among farmers, expand the area under irrigation to 80 lakh hectares in the next five years and a university to promote food processing.
In a separate manifesto for women titled “Nari Shakti Sankalp Patra”, it promised to install sanitary napkin vending machines in schools, a Scooty to every girl who gets more than 75 per cent marks in the Class 12 board examination, and to double the intake capacity of the educational institutions for women in five years.
It is ironic that BJP wants to build statues and memorials of Adivasi greats when cow vigilantes have been violating minority rights, their access to their occupations, cattle and food choices.


It would help them know that Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS) backed Adivasi Chatra Sangh and Gondwana Student Union hold 162 of the 250 elected seats in the student bodies of the region’s two universities, Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya and Rani Durgavati University.
Adivasi disenchantment with BJP is strong in the state. “Adivasis, who populate some of India’s poorest districts, feel they have been failed by both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress. So, they now want to create a “leadership of Adivasis, for Adivasis”. “Politicians come to us during elections, promise us the moon,” said Raviraj Baghel, Indore City president of JAYS. “But as soon as they reach the Assembly or Parliament, they never raise the issues that plague our society. They are not the representatives of Adivasis but of their political masters. It has been the same since independence. But this ‘I am king and my son will be king after me’ attitude will no longer work,” reported Scroll.
Congress leader Kamal Nath said that BJP made all these promises in 2003, 2008 and 2013 too and their 15-year reign was coming to an end.
Congress Manifesto
Congress went completely off-script after promising the usual. In its manifesto, it promised a “spiritual department” in the state, promotion of Sanskrit, development of a “Ram Van Gaman Path”, a mythical route taken by Lord Ram during his exile, and commercial production of cow urine and cow dung cakes.
Many election pundits are confused over the party’s sudden interest in elevating the ‘Hindutva’ sentiment in the state.
“The Congress has promised to cut farmers’ electricity bills by half as also reduce LPG, petrol and diesel prices. It has also promised to waive agricultural loans taken from all types of state-run cooperative banks. Thus far, Congress has kept in mind the needs of agriculturists and their widespread disenchantment with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) governments at the Centre and in the state.  It has also promised the abolition of the infamous Vyapam — or Vyavasayik Pariksha Mandal, the autonomous agency set up by the Chouhan government to conduct professional examinations, which is embroiled in serious irregularities and has so far claimed, directly or indirectly, an unconsciously high number of lives. The death continues to mount and is near the half-a-century mark. Until this point, Congress seems to have addressed very real concerns arising from the mismanagement of the economy by the Modi government and the special needs of some social groupism” reported Firstpost.
After trying to please the farmers, jobless youth, girls and the minorities, Congress goes into supporting Hindu ideals in its manifesto.
“The Congress’ manifesto also promises a host of measures for the conservation of the Narmada river. The party said it would develop religious places along the river at a cost of Rs 1,100 crore, besides enacting the “Maa Narmada Nyas Adhiniyam” for its conservation,” reported Firstpost. It is interesting to note that the river has been a bone of contention in the past as well.
“In a bid to reach out to the majority community, the 112-page manifesto promises an “adhyatmik vibhag” (spiritual department) in the state, as well as plans to promote the Sanskrit language. It speaks of developing the “Ram path” — a mythical route taken by Lord Ram during his 14-year exile — which will be will be built from Chitrakoot within the state boundary and the commercial production of ‘gaumutra’ (cow urine) and ‘kanda’ (cowdung cakes). The document also talks of setting up ‘gaushalas’ (cow shelters) in every village panchayat and making arrangements to set up temporary camps on main roads to provide for treatment to injured cows and last rites of dead cows besides a commitment to make available grazing land for cattle,” the report said.
It went further to please priests in the manifesto. “The Congress also promised new rules for freeing temples of encroachment and adding names of priests and mahants to properties of maths and temples. Referring to the guru-shishya parampara, the manifesto also promises rules for hereditary succession in mutts and temples,” the report said.
“In a direct attack on the ideology of the BJP-RSS combine, the Congress has also announced that if it is given the opportunity to form a government in the state, it won’t allow RSS shakhas to run in government buildings. The BJP has since hit out at the grand old party, saying that its position appears to be “not allowing the Ram Temple to be built, and not allowing shakhas to be run,” the report said.
“Many traditional BJP voters are planning to either abstain or vote for other parties. Unfortunately, Congress has failed to capitalise on this disenchantment by playing an instrumental role in creating a united front. Instead, the Congress’s brains trust, for want of a better appellation, is seeking to counter the BJP’s strident majoritarianism and authoritarianism with its own brand of Hindutva-based mobilisation, not pausing to consider whether it can compete with the BJP by legitimising its ideological positions and political programmes,” another report by Firstpost said.
“Politically, the Congress would do better by pointing to the BJP’s penchant for trying to capture all manner of institutions and subverting them to subserve its alfresco designs of imposing a theocratic template on the Indian polity. For all its faults, the opportunism of the kind that leads it into the terrain of ‘soft Hindutva’, whatever that’s supposed to mean, being one of the worst of them, the Congress cannot be accused of trying to systematically capture and subvert institutions. That’s one arena in which it has remained, generally speaking, true to its mainstream heritage. It should trumpet this achievement,” Suhit Sen reported.
The 230-member Madhya Pradesh Assembly will go to the polls on November 28 and the results will be announced on December 11.
Besides the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP) are also in the running. There is a wind of change with fresh blood being introduced to the game in the form of Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS) who are not yet recognised as a political party so may run as independents from Adivasi majority areas.  
“A former office-bearer of GGP, Dheerendra Dheeru said whatever the political parties said about their ideologies and principles, they mainly wooed tribal votes through money and liquor. The Bahujan Samaj Party which got four seats in the 2013 assembly elections hopes to win a good number of seats this time. “The weaker section has realised that whether it’s BJP or Congress they have betrayed them”, said BSP state chief Pradeep Ahirwar,” reported Hindustan Times. 



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