PM Modi at Nashik Ram temple (left); Rahul Gandhi launches the yatra from Manipur. (PTI)
Ahead of the Pran Pratishtha, PM Modi’s visit to other Ram temples, feeding cows on Makar Sankranti, etc. have established him as an unapologetic nationalist Hindu leader, who has an eye for devpt. It is to be seen whether Rahul Gandhi’s Nyay Yatra will be able to earn enough political currency to fight it
January is all about Ram and Nyay. It is going to be a defining month for both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc. In fact, the month is more significant and politically sensitive for the Opposition’s coalition than it is for the BJP. The Pran Pratishtha of Ram Temple and Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra are set to be major political events that will surely determine India’s course as the country readies for the crucial general election.
With the INDIA bloc boycotting the Pran Pratishtha ceremony in Ayodhya early next week, Ram and Ram Temple have organically been associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and BJP. Now, it is to be seen whether Rahul Gandhi’s Nyay Yatra will be able to occupy enough space and earn enough political currency to fight the Ram temple narrative.
‘NYAY YATRA’, BUT NO ‘SANDHI BANDHU’
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party colleagues, with the active support of the RSS, have successfully built an election narrative that is primarily revolving around Lord Ram and the temple, the INDIA bloc is still embroiled in regional rivalries, lack of consensus over seat-sharing and personal or political hatred among senior leaders.
The delay in decision making for seat-sharing or announcing the name of a national convener, regular disagreements on dates for ally-meetings or even for virtual meetings indicate how the coalition is still struggling to get on the election track.
Four months ahead of the election, the decision of the Congress to take out a Bharat Yodo Nyay Yatra, from Manipur to Maharashtra shows that the grand old party is still working on its own and for its own sake. The skirmishes, disagreements and public spats between allies also reflect the lack of unity and will to start a united poll campaign across states.
A senior leader of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) said that the Congress is still going on its own trip. “Why did they plan the Nyay Yatra as a Congress poll project? Why did they not consult the allies and make it an INDIA yatra? Had it been done it would have given a beautiful impression of unity among the allies. Instead, we are still disagreeing with each other over almost everything. Just a few months before the election, how a major alliance partner is holding a national poll campaign across states without even consulting its regional allies? Nyay Yatra without the Sandhi Bandhu,” he asked.
IN THE NAME OF RAM…
As the Opposition scrambles for a common agenda, PM Modi and his party are leaving no stone unturned.
In the run-up to the Pran Pratishtha ceremony, PM’s visit to other Ram temples in the country, feeding a special breed of cow on the day of Makar Sankranti, his temple-cleaning pledge, his teary-eyed emotional speech for the temple and visuals of the PM chanting mantra have already established him as an unapologetic nationalist Hindu leader, who has an eye for development and reforms.
Meanwhile, his outreach to Muslims and Christians, holding meeting with spiritual leaders and intellectual personalities from both communities also reflect his efforts to represent his idea of inclusivity.
Unlike the last general elections, this election will not be fought over nationalism and Pakistan. This year, he has more things to showcase. The prime is of course Ram Temple in Ayodhya, which is a culmination of decades old temple movement by the RSS, Jan Sangh and later the BJP.
The abrogation of Article 370 and managing Jammu and Kashmir in a certain administrative way adds another feather in his cap. Replacing the colonial criminal-justice system with a new criminal code adds to his penchant for reforms.