Enthused by its ‘success’ in some pockets, BJP keen to push Hindutva agenda in Old Mysore region

Updated - January 11, 2023 11:31 pm IST

Published - January 11, 2023 10:22 pm IST - Bengaluru

A file photo of Union Ministers Amit Shah and Pralhad Joshi with Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai at a BJP rally in Mandya district.

A file photo of Union Ministers Amit Shah and Pralhad Joshi with Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai at a BJP rally in Mandya district.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), keen to gain a foothold in the Old Mysore region that has largely remained impervious to the party, plans on leveraging the Hindutva plank towards this end ahead of the Assembly elections later this year.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who recently held a strategy meeting for the region, set the target of 54 seats for the party in the region which has 89 seats. This was reportedly based on a survey by a private agency commissioned by the party, which indicated that the party can either win or make inroads in 54 constituencies — 21 in Bengaluru and 33 outside the city.

The survey also reportedly claimed that contrary to popular perceptions, Hindutva finds resonance at the grassroots in many segments, even though some senior leaders within the party are not convinced of this.

Expanding pockets

“In a region hotly contested between the Congress and the JD(S), we believe a combination of Hindutva and wooing Vokkaligas can help us make inroads into the villages,” said a senior BJP leader. “Hindutva has always found resonance in pockets of the Old Mysore region like in Bengaluru and Mysuru cities. But these pockets are expanding. For instance, Hanuma Jayanti Shobhayatre has gained good momentum in Mysuru and Hunsur. The hijab issue resonated even in Mandya, beyond our expectations,” said a senior party functionary.

Enthused by these responses, the party has been pushing Hindutva in several segments over the past two years, with varying degrees of success. “For instance, in Kolar and Chickballapur districts, where Hindutwa held no appeal, you now see Hindutva groups at the grassroots thanks to S. Muniswamy and K. Sudhakar. The recent campaigns around the clock tower in Kolar town and similar campaigns around Vidhurashwatha and a Ram Mandir in Gauribidanur have helped the party make some inroads,” a senior party leader said. The party also hopes to reap electoral dividends from the Idgah Maidan dispute in Chamarajpet in Bengaluru. Higher Education Minister C.N. Ashwath Narayan has promised a Ram Mandir on the lines of Ayodhya in Ramanagaram district.

Tipu’s role

The debate around Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan seems to be key to the party’s Hindutva plank in the region. Following a recent play by Addanda Cariappa, director of Rangayana in Mysuru, which claimed Tipu was killed by two hitherto unknown Vokkaliga chieftains. Uri Gowda and Dodda Nanje Gowda, C.T. Ravi, national general secretary, BJP suggested at a public rally in Bengaluru that Vokkaligas need to celebrate the two chieftains. Though historians say there is no evidence of their existence, the party hopes that if this narrative could bring Vokkaligas closer to the Hindutva plank.

Meanwhile, the party is wooing the seer of the prominent Adichunchanagiri Mutt and is enthused by the frequent association of the seer with the party, given even Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath stays at the mutt during his visit to the State.

Voices of dissent

However, there are also arguments that pushing the Hindutva agenda too aggressively could prove counter-productive.

A senior Minister cautioned that traditionally Hindutva had not worked in the region and the party would mainly focus on development, for instance Bengaluru-Mysuru expressway, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Hindutva will always be part of the message. Another party leader said, “Hindutva does resonate in certain pockets of the region. But the party’s message for the entire region will not be overwhelmed by Hindutva agenda.”

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