Ujjain: BJP chief Amit Shah onb Wednesday took a dip in the Kshipra river with Dalit saints, reaching out to the community at the 'Simhasth Kumbh', a massive congregation of Hindus, as the party looks to consolidate its Hindutva vote base ahead of the crucial Uttar Pradesh elections.
Mixing with the multitude, Shah later asserted the BJP-led NDA government was committed to strengthening the culture and tradition of India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also scheduled to attend an event in the city on Saturday, while RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat will be there on Thursday, underlining the Hindutva outfits' all out attempts to expand their base during the sacred religious congregation.
Shah was joined by Dalit saints, including Balyogi Umesh Nath Giri of Balmiki Dham, besides other Hindu seers during the customary dip in the river billed by the party as 'Samrasta Snan' (bath for social harmony).
He felicitated them and then went to another event where he honoured the heads of various Hindu akharas. "I and my party workers seek your blessings so that the government under Narendra Modi goes on to make India the 'vishwa guru' (world leader)," he said, batting for social harmony and development.
Shah also noted that today was the birth anniversary of Adi Shankaracharya, who was credited with unifying various streams of Hinduism. Later, Shah also had a 'Samrasta Bhoj' (social harmony feast) with Dalit sadhus.
Prior to the 'Snan', the BJP chief, accompanied by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and others, took part in a "samagam" (meeting) at Valmiki Dham which was attended among others by Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad head Narendra Giri, Juna Akhara Peeth's head Awdheshanand and Valmiki Dham's Peethadheeshwar Umesh Nath.
"BJP is the only party which believes in strengthening the country's culture and fostering the motto of world as one abode, one family (Vasudhaiva kutumbakam)," Shah told reporters.
"It (snan) holds more significance as today is the jayanti of Shankracharya, who treaded the path of unifying the main streams of thoughts in Hindu religion at a young age of 32," he said.
The non-Dalit sadhus who were earlier averse to the 'Samrasta Snan' today softened their stand, saying they had misunderstood the concept.
They said they were under a "wrong" impression that the bath was confined to Shah and the Dalits. After coming to know that people from all castes will participate in it, they decided to join too.
"Water is for everybody and saints of all hues have taken bath together. We have no reservation now against the snan," Juna Akhara Peeth's head Awdheshanand said....