Friday, 30 May, 2008

BJP's southern Hindutva at work

NDTV, May 16, 2008 8:56 PM (Mangalore): Karnataka saw the second phase of polling on Friday, and 60 per cent of the people turned up to vote for a stable government in the state.However, will the BJP's strategy of Hindutva work in coastal Karnataka? They've been building temples to work their way into the power.Coastal Karnataka is popularly known as the laboratory for the growth of Hindutva in south India. The BJP has been able to make significant in roads in this region, which was once a Congress bastion.The strategy is simple, work with the people for building temples and do not be mistaken by the Ram temple in Ayodhya but by rebuilding and renovating old ancient temples in the region.Nagaraj Shetty is a former minister in the BJP-JDS government who was responsible for temple renovation in Karnataka.He is nicknamed the Narendra Modi of Mangalore and has been accused of inciting communal riots in the coastal region. And there's no stopping the BJP strongman. Nagaraj Shetty avoids visiting a mosque and is quite open in his attempt to use the temple movement."We started tempting the people, we go to them as government minister or government representative, we go to the village and tell them we are with you start working, renovate this temple 800 or 1000 years old," said Nagaraj Shetty, BJP candidate.And it's with this over 2,000 temple network in south Kanara, the BJP along with the help of the Sangh Parivar has been able to make significant inroads. The campaign style is simple, no elaborate public meetings, but temple workers perform pujas and a lunch for the friendly neighbourhood with a chance to meet their candidate."The important thing is we have gone deep into the villages and attracted all the segments, even the lowest strata of the society, the kodagu community," said V S Acharaya, BJP leader.This has paid dividend in the last elections, the Congress was decimated in the coastal region which has 15 seats. Years of neglect and factionalism by senior Congress leaders have only helped the BJP better its chances.The Congress is now working hard in telling this backward caste dominated region that they are being misled."For a short time they can fool the people, they understand and realise particularly the minority community is condemned like anything," said Janardhan Poojary, Congress leader.It's with these temple renovation projects that the BJP has been able to work with local communities to make significant inroads into what was once a Congress citadel.

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