LUCKNOW: The Congress’s carefully-crafted soft Hindutva electoral strategy, which many feel paid dividends in the recent Assembly elections, is likely to continue in Uttar Pradesh with the party lining up temple visits for Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra ahead of the elections.
Those in the know said the brother-sister duo is likely to seek the blessings of Lord Ram at his makeshift abode in Ayodhya, visit the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi and pray at the Gorakhnath temple in Yogi Adityanath’s turf.
Sources said the itinerary will be revealed to the media only at the last moment. Besides the temple visits, the party’s campaign in the most populous state will also centre around wooing the Hindu voters majorly. Whether this will be in the form of promising gaushalas, or cow shelters, in the party manifesto is still being worked out.
In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress manifesto included the construction of gaushalas and the development of a Ram Van Gaman Path in Chitrakoot to recreate the route Lord Ram is believed to have taken during his exile.
“All options are being weighed by the party think-tank,” a senior UP Congress leader said. This not-so-subtle wooing of Hindus could damage its image among Muslims but the party feels it will help counter Adityanath’s ‘aura’, which the BJP often flaunts.
The decision to continue soft Hindutva comes in the backdrop of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad offering support to the grand old party if it includes Ram temple construction in its election manifesto.
Though VHP leader Alok Kumar later retracted his statement, senior Congress leaders feel the VHP’s overtures should be taken forward as the saffron outfit has substantial clout among Hindus.
Bifurcation of UP Cong on cards
UP Cong unit could also be divided into two - east and west - with two PCC chiefs to assist Priyanka Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia, the AICC general secretary for west UP.