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Defeat Of BJP; Temple Stir In Eclipse

The Hindu agenda that was used as the key poll-plank in the three States of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in the backdrop of virtual crusade for construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya is believed to have boomeranged

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With the defeats in the recent Assembly elections in the three Hindu states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh – apart from Telangana and Mizoram – in particular, the BJP appears to have been left with no option except to make strategic changes in its pro-Hindu agenda. The party high-command is said to have stepped up efforts to hold confabulations and secret parleys with Hindu outfits in order to elicit their views about initiatives for the construction of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.

The Hindu agenda that was used as the key poll-plank in the three States of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in the backdrop of virtual crusade for construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya is believed to have boomeranged. The abortive attempts by the BJP to polarise the Hindu vote bank in the poll-bound States with carrying out a pro-Hindu agenda such as Ayodhya tangle amounted to polarisation of non-BJP vote bank that included non-Hindu and secular-Hindu forces as well.

If sources privy to the BJP headquarters are to be believed, none other than BJP President Amit Shah refused to own up the responsibility for the party’s defeat in the three States and passed the buck on the RSS and VHP. The two Hindu outfits have been accused of playing key roles to strategise the political agenda of the party for elections in these States. Shah is claimed to have been opposed to strategies worked out by the RSS and VHP to impact the elections in the Hindu States by holding rallies of Hindus on December 9 in Delhi in favour of the Ram Temple on the eve of polls.    

In an instant reaction to the elections’ result in the Hindu States, in particular, Shah is said to have sought explanations from poll-strategists associated with RSS and VHP. Shah is believed to have been articulate enough in getting his views across within the party that it was the RSS and VHP that held the reins of the elections in the three States and the party had nothing to do with the end results in the states. He was not supposed to feel ashamed for the defeat, sources informed.

Incidentally, Raman Singh was made a scapegoat and forced to own up the responsibility for the defeat when an uncompromising Shah refused to concede his failure. Sources claimed that Shah had to succumb to the diktats issued by the RSS while working out strategies for the polls and when the party suffered a humiliating defeat in the elections, he seized the opportunity to implicitly settle scores with RSS and VHP by refuting to own up his failure.

In order to allay the accentuating differences between the BJP and the Hindu outfits over the issue of defeat in three States, strategists from both sides, however, came out with the proposal to convene a joint meeting of BJP, RSS and VHP soon for introspection into the matter. Party insiders revealed that the Hindu outfits were likely to be asked to keep them away from poll strategies and hold back their movement for construction of the Temple in Ayodhya till the Lok Sabha elections.

Incidentally, a section of the party leadership was of the view that the party could neither afford to ignore the Ram Temple issue that was supposed to be the foremost poll-plank to polarise the Hindu vote bank in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections nor could it continue with its ploy to woo Hindu fundamentalists at the cost of non-Hindu-pro-BJP section and secular-Hindu forces as well. They claimed that the party had minority votes in these States too, but it could not turn them in its favour in the recent elections owing to implicit hatred displayed against them in the garb of carrying out a frenzied crusade for the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

The past bears testimony to the fact that the movement pertaining to the construction of the Ram Temple had a major impact on the election result in Madhya Pradesh and it incidentally never yielded a result in favour of the BJP. The demolition of Babri mosque on December 6, 1992, provided the impetus to subsequent assembly elections in MP in 1993. It witnessed a consequent shift of about 40 lakh Muslim votes against Hindu forces and the Digvijay Singh led-Congress stormed to power.

Even as the Muslim community have hardly got their dues in the elections, they continued to stand by the Congress in the next elections in the State too. The BJP is believed to have succeeded in making a dent in the Congress bastion and returned to power in the State only when the former suspended its movement for construction of Ram Temple in the light of its sub-judice entity and went to the fray with other agendas. Even in Rajasthan that has 88.49 per cent Hindu votes and in Chhattisgarh that has merely 2 per cent Muslim votes, the BJP failed to retain power in the garb of carrying out a crusade for the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

There was a spurt in a number of Muslim MLAs in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh. It has jumped from three after the 2013 elections to 11 as the BJP was swept out of power in the three Hindu states. In all, 19 Muslims were elected in the five states that went to polls. The big change was in Rajasthan, where the number of Muslim MLAs has gone up to eight from just two in the 2013 House. The number of Muslim MLAs in the Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh Assemblies -that had just one and none, respectively, in the 2013 Houses- are now two and one respectively.

Sources claimed that the BJP was steadfast in its denial to renew the Ram Temple issue at this juncture while working on a poll-plank for the recent three BJP-ruled poll-bound States. The BJP high command was articulate in getting its view across to the Hindu-forces in particular that let the matter decided by the court and the party should refrain from any controversy till elections were over. But, the RSS and VHP refused to go by the party’s strategy and reportedly threatened to part ways if the BJP tried to defer the Temple issue any more.

The BJP, as such, appears to have used Hindu-agenda and Ram Temple issue in other poll-bound States of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh under duress too. However, apart from Temple issue, rampant corruption under Shivraj Singh Chauhan in Madhya Pradesh, misrule in Rajasthan in the Vasundhara Raje Scindia regime and political intrigue within the ruling BJP in Chhattisgarh under the Raman Singh dispensation remained key factors for the BJP’s debacle. Incidentally, these factors were identified by the Central leadership as tentative markers for the eventual ouster of the incumbent CMs in the three States even if the party was voted to power. It amounted to a purported backlash by the incumbent CMs and their supporters and it dealt a major blow to the party’s prospects in the elections.

To top it all, the pertinent question that baffles the mind of many is: Has the BJP been left with any other option except to use Ram Temple issue in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections in 2019? Or, can the Hindu outfits afford to survive savage attacks by secular forces by severing association with the BJP even if the latter refused to comply with diktats issued by the former time and again?  

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