New Delhi, Feb 4: Is Mahakumbh the new Kurukshetra? Just like it had happened in the great war of the past, top leaders of the two main national fronts are heading to the huge religious congregation currently underway in Allahabad. Both sides are eager to utilise Mahakumbh as a platform to kick off Mission 2014. But why suddenly Mahakumbh?
The point of origin of this political duel is Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde's recent remark on 'Hindu terror'. Shinde had said at a party meeting that the BJP and RSS were conducting terror camps in the country and the comment was welcomed by Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Hafiz Saeed.
A major controversy was sparked off with the saffron brigade taking out huge protest against Shinde. The Sangh Parivar has particularly found an opportunity to regain prominence by cashing in on the Hindutva agenda, which had been pushed aside by the BJP's economic reform/development model in recent years under leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi.
The RSS and VHP have decided to connect Mahakumbh to the anti-Shinde agitation with an aim to resurrect Hindutva ahead of the next big election. The plan also features the upcoming VHP meet in Allahabad and reviving the Ram Mandir agitation.
The far-right forces, however, have also remembered not to ignore Narendra Modi's leadership for he is the most sought-after leader in the BJP at the moment to become the country's prime minister. It is a different matter that NDA allies like JD(U) and Shiv Sena have opposed to Modi's PM candidature but the Sangh Parivar knows only a blend between Hindutva and development can help it gain more political ground and nobody other than Modi can give a better direction on this matter.
The Congress is not sitting quiet, either. The party, which has mastered the art of playing 'soft Hindutva' card, knows very well that Shinde's explosive comment can actually do the BJP more harm than good. For if the BJP, agitated by the remark, decides to go back to its old position on Hindutva to retaliate against the Congress, the latter could conveniently bag the secular sentiments in the next electoral battles.
The party's top leaders are also likely to take dip in the Ganga and seek blessing of Hindu seers ahead of the election. There could not have been a better opportunity to reconnect to the electorate in a state that was once its bastion and always plays a decisive role in determining the country's rulers. The Congress, which has failed miserably in terms of governance, will find a welcome diversion of attention towards religion, an eternal emotional factor in India.
Sonia Gandhi had taken a dip in the Ganga during the 2001 Kumbh Mela. It was a time when voices went high against her foreign origin and it was perhaps a soft approach to establish Gandhi's Hindu credentials. This time, Sonia and Rahul, the newly appointed Congress vice-president, would head for the Aligarh Muslim University to address the annual convocation. A perfect 'secularist ploy' by the Congress top brass.
Who will make a better use of the Hindu sentiment?