The BJP and its allied saffron organisations seem to be sending inclusive as well as hardcore Hindutva messages simultaneously as polls close in.
On Sunday, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi exhorted the BJP to reach out to all sections of society, including Muslims, saying his attempts to include Muslims in local bodies led to 20-25 % of Muslims tilt towards the BJP in Gujarat.
However, simultaneously, the VHP is raising temperatures in Uttar Pradesh, saying its proposed Chaurasi Kosi Parikrama Yatra (circumambulatory pilgrimage) from August 25 around Ayodhya will take place irrespective of permission from the state administration.
“The two seem contradictory,” a BJP leader accepted.
But party sources maintain there is a two-pronged strategy behind this apparent contradiction: BJP will talk “development” and inclusion while allied organizations like the VHP will openly polarise around Hindutva.
The VHP and Modi have been in touch lately, sources say. VHP chief Ashok Singhal and many VHP sants had attended his latest oath-taking. Singhal also demanded earlier this year that Modi should be the BJP’s PM candidate, years after trazing of unauthorized temples in Gujarat for road widening led to a souring of relations.
Party leaders aren’t confident of the Hindutva strategy two decades after the Ayodhya movement. Some believe the younger voter won’t be attracted to Hindutva and others say Hindus vote by caste, not religion. “This may consolidate the Muslims to defeat us,” one leader said.
However, a section of the party — particularly cadres —like the politics of polarisation, saying this brought the party to power and distinguishes it from others. They say if Hindutva comes to the fore, all other parties will take an identical line, confusing the Muslim voter, and help BJP in UP and Bihar. This will help the SP and decimate Congress in UP, some say.
“When the SP-led UP government counters the VHP yatra, Muslim support for the SP will be strengthened, decimating the Congress in a state that accounts for 80 Lok Sabha seats, helping BJP become the largest party in the Lok Sabha,” a BJP leader claimed.
The party and Modi will talk development and inclusion to attract the neutral Hindu voter who opposes the Congress for corruption charges, inflation and the economic slowdown. Modi, however, may tactically use innuendos that may be read as anti-Muslim.