New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi made Vijaya Dasami a “very special” day for Sangh Parivar cadres and Hindutva votaries and has set the tone for the Uttar Pradesh elections. Mr Modi’s “Jai Shri Ram... Jai Jai Shri Ram...” chants at a Dasara event in Lucknow on Tuesday might have attracted a lot of criticism from the Opposition, which found the PM’s speech to be “sheer politics”, but for the Sangh cadre it was nothing less than the “conviction of being a Hindu”, at a time when politically the country is witnessing a “compulsion for de-Hinduisa-tion for votebank politics”.
It was the Ram Janma-bhoomi that ensured the BJP’s rise in national politics, and the party is often accused of using the issue for “polarisation” and “votebank politics”. But after realising it was not always a vote-winner nationally, it was relegated to the background.
Mr Modi is perhaps the first Prime Minister who chanted “Jai Shri Ram” at a Dasara event. While the Opposition alleged the PM’s speech was “sheer politics” and he had “no faith in Shri Ram, the chant has “enthused” the bulk of the Sangh cadre, who feel only Mr Modi could have sent such a “strong symbolic message” that “Lord Ram” is part of “India’s legacy” and chanting the Lord’s name is “nothing to be ashamed of”.
The VHP’s Praveen Togadia reiterated the Sangh affiliate’s long-standing demand, saying that when the Prime Minister had chanted “Jai Shri Ram”, he should also ensure that a resolution was passed in Parliament for the construction of a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya at the earliest.
What is the controversy, asks RSS
RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha said those who criticised Mr Modi for chanting Jai Shri Ram had failed to notice or debate many contemporary social and cultural issues that the PM had raised in his Dussehra speech.
“Lord Ram symbolises not only divinity but also an idealist view of life, governance and combines the virtues of perfect warrior and extreme form of compassion. What is so controversial in chanting the name of someone (who) is part of our cultural identity, inspires good governance and value-based life?” Mr Sinha asked.
The BJP described the Opposition's attack as the “heights of intolerance”, and said Mr Modi’s speeches, policy decisions and visits were always linked by the Opposition with one election or another. BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma said only those who did not believe in Indian culture would find anything wrong in Jai Shri Ram.
He accused the Opposition of raising “irrelevant issues” to divert attention from the government's development agenda as they have nothing to say on the matter.
“If one will not chant Jai Shri Ram at a Dussehra event, where will you do it? It is part of our culture. Those who believe in Indian culture find nothing wrong in it,” said Mr Sharma.