Monday, September 08, 2003

Judeo to cleanse temple visited by Jogi

Sanjay Basak

New Delhi, Sept 7:

If Gangaajal for Prakash Jha, is a "metaphor signifying the act of cleansing," the BJP Union minister Dilip Singh Judeo intends to put this into practice by using the holy water to "cleanse the Hindu shrines, where a non-Hindu had set foot " in Chhattisgarh. Mr Judeo wants to sprinkle India's holy water on some Hindu shrines, where a non-Hindu Christian chief minister Ajit Jogi visited to seek divine blessings. The Jogi camp, on the other hand, countered by claiming that the chief minister "is a practising Hindu and a son of the soil." They then targeted the Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee saying that he is a "chicken eater," who has not done anything for Chhattisgarh. However, the move to cleanse the shrines, awaits clearance from the BJP high command, which is not certain, whether the use of gangajal, would be proper in this particular context. The Judeo camp, on the other hand is apparently firm about beginning its cleansing operation from October, a month before the state goes to Assembly polls. As for Mr Judeo's plan, he would set on a to "purify" the Danteshwari, Bamleshwari and Mahamaya Devi temples and atone for the chief minister's "sins." The hardcore Hindutva brigade feels that Jogi has "polluted" the three temples where non-Hindus are discouraged from entering. It was further added by the camp that the error has been "compounded," as Mr Jogi had taken the "other Christian," Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to some of the temples.

A section of liberal BJP leaders are apparently sceptical about the yatra, as they felt that such a move would "damage" the party chief M. Venkaiah Naidu's call for "social expansion of the outfit." A senior party functionary said that the BJP has been desperately trying to rectify its image among the Muslims, after the Gujarat carnage. "We already have problems with the Christians over the conversion issue. The fight should remain confined to that. The cleansing operation could just boomerang," the functionary said. Another senior BJP leader acknowledged that Mr Judeo has sought permission from the high command for the use of an air-conditioned Swaraj Mazda-rath to help him transport Gangajal across Chhattisgarh. If Mr Judeo's gangajal has put the BJP in a dilemma, the party was finding its going somewhat "tricky," in certain tribal pockets of tribal belts. In these areas, the BJP was hit by, what the leaders described as "identity crisis." In remote tribal belts of Bastar, Dantewala, Kankar, the BJP is identifying itself as "phoolwala
(lotus) Congress." As senior functionary explained, "In certain tribal pockets, people are unaware of BJP. They know only about Congress and Indira Gandhi." The BJP leaders in these pockets explaining that the fight is between "phoolwala Congress (BJP) and haathwala Congress (Indian National Congress with hand as its symbol)." The saffron appeal, therefore, is, "Vote phoole pe, haath mein nahin."

Source: Asian Age, September 8, 2003

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