NEW DELHI:Come August, and the focus will once again be on the Ganga, at least politically. BJP president Amit Shah along with senior party leaders have decided to use the most trusted tool of their party’s arsenal–Yatras— to rev up support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet scheme ‘Namami Gange’.
The idea is to start two Yatras simultaneously from Gangotri and Gangasagar. And, both the yatras would meet at the Sangam (confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical river Saraswati) in Allahabad.
While the Rs 20,000 crore project has been approved by the Modi government, BJP will use its political influence to make the movement a success.
Ministers Uma Bharti, Prakash Javadekar, party leaders Trivendra Rawat, Shiv Prakash, and Hriday Nath Singh are part of the Namami Gange committee floated by Shah in April this year to lend a helping hand to government’s scheme.
While, the idea of cleaning Ganga gels with the saffron party’s ideology of cultural nationalism, it is also likely to help the party receive rich dividends ahead of the crucial assembly polls in states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, and Uttarakhand. With all these stated currently run by the non-BJP governments, BJP hopes to yield results from the Yatra.
The idea of starting a Ganga Yatra was mooted during a meeting chaired by Shah at the party headquarters on Tuesday.
“We will soon be starting a Ganga Yatra from Gomukh (Gangotri) to Gangasagar. The tentative time for this yatra has been planned after monsoons, in August,” Trivendra Rawat, senior BJP leader told The Sunday Standard after the meeting.
Rawat heads the Namami Gange committee set up in April this year, during BJP’s national executive meeting in Bengaluru.
Also on cards is setting up of committees in all the 1,618 villages located on the banks of the Ganga, 118 towns and 30 big cities along the 2,510 kilometer route of Ganga that starts from Gangotri in Uttarkhand, and finally meets Bay of Bengal at Gangasagar.
These committees involving local people would act as nerve centres for creating a mass movement, the BJP leaders claimed.
Interestingly, Uma Bharti had earlier taken out Ganga Yatra in 2012 to garner support for cleaning the Ganges and ensuring uninterrupted flow in the holy river.
Rawat, who hails from Uttarakhand, is currently made party in-charge of the state. He had earlier assisted Shah, when latter was in-charge of the party in Uttar Pradesh. It was this combination that helped the party win 73 seats in the last Lok Sabha elections.
Yatra may just be one part of action plan drawn by the party. “We intend to set up committees in all the villages, towns and cities. These committees will then organise seminars, cultural programmes, plays to highlight the role of Ganga and importance of keeping it clean,” Rawat added.
The same committee will also talk about importance of Swachh Bharat, and managing waste at the village level, and how to tackle problems of open defecation, which also leads to pollution in the river.
The BJP had recently enrolled close to 11 crore new members. Sources said the new members will be motivated to become part of the Yatra, and associate them with the mission.
The new members have to be ideologically involved with the party, so starting new programmes will help them stay engaged, a party leader said.
Prime Minister Modi is also expected to visit Varanasi on July 16, where he is likely to endorse some of the programmes in the line to clean up the river Ganga.Modi had performed Ganga Arti in Varanasi, a day after winning the Lok Sabha elections, to assert the cultural-religious importance of the river in the new government’s eco-system.
THE ROAD MAP
■ The Yatra will pass through Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.
■ Committees formed in 1,618 villages, 118 towns and 30 big cities that are situated on the banks of the Ganga
■ Senior BJP leaders are part of the Namame Gange committee