PUTTUR(KARNATAKA): The Congress unofficially announced its intentions to woo Hindus back to its fold by inaugurating the Bharatiya Hindu Parishat (BHP) here on Wednesday. For the record, the party is not linked with the VHP-like outfit, but observers said the idea is to test the waters in the coastal region, where significant numbers of Hindus have gravitated towards the BJP.
A brainchild of Hemanath Shetty, Puttur Block Congress president, the BHP is expected to counter the aggressive right-wing groups active along the coast.
The launch had the fervour of a religious ceremony, with the chanting of Vishnu Sahasranama and Ganesha hymns. Party leaders also performed a Satyanarayana puja. The Congress workers said the party has neglected the majority community for long and the number of Hindus joining its cadre has come down in recent times.
Karnataka’s first MLA from the Sangh Parivar, Urimajalu Rama Bhat, was elected from Puttur in the 1970s.
Since then, the BJP has won the constituency many times and sent leaders like D V Sadananda Gowda and Shakuntala Shetty to the Vidhana Soudha. Even in the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP gets a massive vote share from Puttur.
“We cannot shut ourselves to the majority and hope to do well in the elections,” a Congress worker said.
“Hinduism is no one’s property and we should not be afraid of other parties that work on the Hindutva plank,” Hemanath told reporters outside the puja venue.