Mumbai Congress sets up a cell of Hindu priests
Mumbai city news: The move was aimed at wooing the Congress’ traditional north Indian voters who switched to the BJP in the civic electionsmumbai Updated: Jun 26, 2017 10:25 IST
In a surprising move, the Congress party’s Mumbai unit has set up a cell of Hindu priests and sants called the Mumbai Sant Mahant Congress. It is headed by Dhyanyogi Omdasji Maharaj, a trustee of the Hanuman Siddhapith Mutt at Vakola in the city.
The Congress’ city chief Sanjay Nirupam said the party would organise a convention of 400 such sants and mahants soon.
Sources in the party told HT the move was aimed at wooing back the Congress’ traditional north Indian voters who had switched to the BJP in the civic elections. The cell would seek to attract sants and mahants from various akharas and sampradayas in the northern parts of the country.
“This is a wing of the secular-minded priests, who are against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Rashtriya Swayansevak Sangh’s (RSS) politicisation of temples and mutts. They are fed up with the political activities of the BJP, which has been communalising these institutions for its benefit. The BJP has been using these temples only for its politics without doing anything for the welfare of the temples or solving their problems. When they approached us with their problems and sought help, we decided to form the cell by bringing them under one umbrella,” Nirupam told HT.
Party insiders believe that by forming this wing, the Mumbai Congress is trying to counter allegations of minority appeasement. The party had got beating in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections held earlier this year; its tally fell to 31 from 52 seats in 2012.
However, not all in the state Congress are convinced about the wisdom of Nirupam’s move. “This is a shocking move and taken probably without permission from the leadership. This is against the Congress’s secular ideology and will never be endorsed by the leadership,” a senior Congress leader from the city said.
Nirupam, however, said, “If we can have cells for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities, what is wrong in having a separate wing of saffron priests?”