From Karnataka to Gujarat: How Congress is trying to grab BJP’s vote-spinner Hindutva plank

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New Delhi | Updated: January 11, 2018 2:41:43 PM

Karnataka election 2018: In the wake of BJP's roaring electoral success with Hindutva plank since 2014, it is interesting to note that Congress is trying to corner the saffron party with a Hindutva version of its own.

karnataka election 2018, congress hindutva, hindutva congress, bjp, rahul gandhi, siddaramiah, yogi adityanath, gujarat news, karnataka newsFILE Photo: Rahul Gandhi at Chamunda Mata Temple Chotila in Surendranagar, Gujarat. (PTI)

Karnataka election 2018: In the wake of BJP’s roaring electoral success with Hindutva plank since 2014, it is interesting to note that Congress is trying to corner the saffron party with a Hindutva version of its own – many commentators have termed it “soft Hindutva.” Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah recently gave a twist to the Hindutva philosophy of Congress.

Facing attacks from BJP’s firebrand Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath over Congress’ alleged “anti-Hindu” politics in the state, Siddaramaiah came up with a shrewd response – asserting he follows “Hindutva of humanity” and not its “demonic version”. Yogi Adityanath had alleged Siddaramiah was pandering to Hindus only in the view of upcoming elections in the state. The Karnataka CM reacted to this.

“I am a Hindu and I don’t need to learn from the BJP. They have not taken Hinduism on a lease. Ours is Hindutva with humanity and not a demonic Hindutva,” he was quoted as saying by Deccan Chronicle. Siddaramiah even left an advice for Yogi Adityanath to follow Hindutva as preached by Swami Vivekanand, not the one by Nathuram Godse – who had killed Mahatma Gandhi.

Siddaramaiah extended his Hindutva talk during an interview with Mint on Wednesday. He asserted, “I do not believe in soft or hard Hindutva. Hindutva is Hindutva.”

In the last few days, leaders from BJP and Congress have traded barbs over who is a better Hindu and whose Hindutva is better. It is becoming increasingly apparent that Hindutva would become the plank on which both parties will fight the upcoming polls in the Congress, though the party is trying to hide its own Hindutva push and claiming that the upcoming elections would be communalism versus secularism.

Starting at Gujarat

It was evident during the recently concluded Gujarat assembly elections when Congress president Rahul Gandhi made rounds of temples across the state, and party’s spokespersons flaunted his “janeu-dhari Shiva-bhakta Brahmin” credentials. During the entire campaign, Rahul carefully avoided visiting mosques and partnered with the likes of Patidar leader Hardik Patel – who is himself a big fan of Hindutva. The partnership and strategy worked in Congress’ favour.

Congress’ Hindutva push has now traveled from Gujarat to Karnataka. However, it continues still in Gujarat. On Thursday, The Indian Express reported Congress leader in Gujarat Assembly Paresh Dhanani attacking BJP as “champions of fake Hindutva.” Dhanani even said he will renovate Ram temples in all 116 villages of Amreli – his constituency at his own expense.

“If the BJP can’t even look after smaller Ram temples in the villages, what right has it got to create noise over Ayodhya and question Congress leaders’ visit to temples,” Dhanani was quoted as saying. The Congress leader claims his initiative is “socio-cultural” but then can anyone not notice the politics of his move.

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