The Congress’ dismal performance in the 2014 General elections in which it was reduced to 40 odd seats in the Lok Sabha has forced the party to totally rework its strategy for 2019. One part of this new strategy is to build a strong narrative around Rafale deal, another part is what is being called as ‘soft Hindutva’ approach which is aimed at sending across a subtle message to the voters that ‘Congress too is pro-Hindus’.
The ‘soft-Hindutva’ strategy is a well thought out plan because Congress wants to ensure that the BJP cannot lay sole claim on the Hindu vote bank. Whether it is Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Shiv Bhakt-Janeu Dhari’ claim ‘Mansarovar Yatra’ or ‘Dattatreya Kaul Brahmin’ Gotra revelation, the Congress is trying to send a message that the Congress cares as much about the Hindu as the BJP does.
Rahul has been trying for quite some time now to send a larger message of being a devout Hindu as part of Congress’ soft Hindutva strategy.
Congress: When Secular
Congress was largely seen as leaning towards Muslim appeasement and this is what cost them 2014. Now they want to shun that image. They do not want to be seen as anti-Hindu to cause a repeat of the history. Will it help them?
Rahul being described as ‘janevu dhaari’ shiv bhakta by the party clearly shows a shift in Congress’ strategy. They had taken Hindu votes for granted and it is something they are realizing now.
In recent times, several regional parties like the Samajwadi Party, AIMIM, RJD and to some extent the BSP are also wooing the Muslim voters. Gone are the days when the Congress could claim that Muslims would vote for them and this has left the grand old party (Congress) worried.
Congress: Turing to Hindutva way
During the Gujrat and Karnataka elections, Rahul was seen in temples and at one time even wore a rudraksha. The party had said Rahul and his family were Janevu Dhaari. Rahul reportedly made around 30 visits to temples during his campaign for Gujrat Assembly Election 2017. In September, he went for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, then he said, ‘I am a Shiv bhakt’.
He recently came to the Pushkar for election campaign in poll-bound Rajasthan. Where he claimed during a pooja that he is ‘Dattatreya Brahmin’. Dattatreya Brahmins are Kauls or Kashmiri Pandits.
Now the concern is, what if his so-called Hindu appeasement, temple runs, shiv bhakti and Kashmiri Pandit claims do not go down well with the Muslims?