Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi may be consciously avoiding any reference to Hindutva and the Ram temple in Ayodhya to cultivate a secular image, but behind the scenes, the saffron brigade has charted out a clear strategy to mobilise Hindus on these very lines.
At a recent meeting of BJP leaders chaired by Modi's lieutenant and the party's general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh, Amit Shah finalised this plan, party sources revealed. The strategy involves personal contact with the relatively lesser known sants and mahants running mutts and temples, as also well-known 'dharmacharyas' to get them to endorse Modi as the ideal choice for prime minister. While lower rung party office-bearers would contact local level seers in ordinary temples, senior party leaders will rope in the better known 'dharmacharyas' for this purpose.
The party is also in the process of finalising literature to be distributed at religious places, which would describe Modi's personality, vision and his success in transforming Gujarat into a developed and economically strong state. The booklet to be distributed throughout the state would also explain why Hindus should get together and vote for Modi. The literature, sources said, will also state that other parties, such as the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samajwadi Party and the Congress formed governments with Hindu votes but were busy appeasing Muslims. The literature will establish that Modi's victory as PM would put an end to Islamic terrorism in the country.
In addition, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the aggressive Hindutva-driven arm of the saffron brigade, will start 'dharma yatras' from February 15 throughout the state to propagate this message. These yatras will start from a prominent religious place. A senior VHP leader said these yatras will communicate to people that a Ram temple will be built in Ayodhya only when Modi heads a BJP majority government at the Centre.
"Mulayam Singh thumps his chest and says he ordered firing at the 'kar sevaks' (in 1990) to save the mosque (in Ayodhya). We want to expose leaders like him who can go to any extent to get Muslim votes," said VHP secretary Ras Bihari. "We will tell Hindus (during the yatras) to join hands and relegate such forces to political oblivion forever."
Another strategy that the BJP is learnt to be planning is to spread the theory that the Akhilesh Yadav regime will not remain in power within three months of BJP assuming power at the Centre. The idea is to project Mulayam and his party as a force working only for Muslims' welfare while ignoring Hindu interests. Party sources said this would be one of the core issues to be highlighted at workers' meetings throughout the state from February 15 to March 15.
BJP spokesman for the state Vijay Pathak did not confirm or deny this, but said: "All party candidates have been told to canvass for votes in the name of Modiji. The candidate will tell the people that they will not be voting for him but for Modi and the BJP."