Appointment of priest into Maharashtra cabinet is another manifestation of BJP targeting Hindu voters along religious lines in 2019


Mahrashtra government on Wednesday took an extraordinary decision to accord the cabinet rank to a head of a Hindu temple. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis gave the chief of Siddhivinayak temple trust, Aadesh Bandekar, a junior minister’s status in his cabinet.

Bandekar, a Shiv Sena leader and popular Marathi TV show host, will now enjoy the facilities of Minister of State (MoS) in the Maharashtra cabinet.

“I won’t take any allowance; I just want to serve the people. The status of MoS has not been given to a man, it has been given to the position (Chairman of Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Temple) in which I am right now,” Aadesh Bandekar was quoted by news agency ANI.

Glass half empty

Although some have viewed his appointment as an attempt to woo the Shiv Sena, which has been routinely attacking the BJP while also embarrassing Prime Minister Narendra Modi; the Fadnavis government’s decision doesn’t appear to be focussing just on the future electoral gains in Maharashtra.

The appointment of a Hindu priest into a state cabinet is yet another manifestation of BJP targeting the Hindu voters wooing them along the religious lines. This comes just a day after the saffron party sensationally severed ties with its alliance partner, PDP, to pull out of the state government, prompting the imposition of the President’s Rule. The split in the alliance with the PDP was imminent simply because it was bound to damage BJP’s nationalism and pro-Hindutva agenda ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha polls. All these events have given legitimacy to the cynics among liberals, who’ve long held the view that Modi had failed on all fronts and had no option but to exhibit his hardcore Hindutva face more explicitly than ever before.

This isn’t the first time a BJP government has inducted a Hindu religious leader into the cabinet. Only recently, Madhya Pradesh’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan government honoured as many as five Hindu saints with cabinet ranks. That was, of course, to stop them from embarrassing the BJP government. These Hindu babas had threatened to launch a stir against an alleged scam in the Narmada conservation programme. That would have been catastrophic for Chouhan and the BJP just few months before the crucial assembly polls.

Both the BJP and PM Modi are masters of camouflaging failures through well-crafted deceptions. You need to analyse the developments of Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and now Maharashtra, and you have a clear pattern that is set to define Indian politics from here on. This pattern is dangerous, for it has every ingredient to bring the worst fear of an average liberal Indian true. A sinister force has started to convert a secular India into a Hindu nation, slowly and steadily.

Now cast your mind back to all those murders of Mulsims and Dalits by the so-called fringe elements. They were never fringe and the murders of Dadri’s Mohammad Akhlaq or Haryana’s Junaid or Rajasthan’s Pehlu Khan was not a case in isolation. What happened in Una two years ago was also not a case of aberration. They were carried out to build a vicious atmosphere, capable of helping the BJP electorally in the election year. The idea was to create the bogey of a Hindu nation to feed Hindu masses as opium if and when they question the BJP and, more crucially, Modi on its spectacular failures in governance.

A former associate of Ram Madhav earlier this week wrote beautifully just how spectacular the BJP’s failure has been on all fronts. Disenchanted, Shivam Shankar Singh announced in his blog that he was resigning from the BJP even though he had helped the party secure a phenomenal win in Tripura earlier this year.

Glass half full?

As I write this piece, I’ve had electricity supply interrupted over a dozen times within a span of an hour. I am fine since I live in a housing society and have the luxury of power back-up, which ensures uninterrupted supply of electricity all throughout the day and night. You should also not worry since at least you now have a Hindu priest in a state cabinet which would ensure that the religion is finally safe and out of danger.

Petrol and diesel prices have skyrocketed under the Modi government even at a time when the prices of crude oil in the international market has been at an all-time low. But should this be a cause of concern for us and influence our voting pattern? Not really since India is finally inching closer to becoming a Hindu nation.

Businesses particularly start-ups are bleeding because of demonetisation and the rolling out of the GST, but this mustn’t be a reason for you or your workforce to not record fitness challenge videos or display exuberance on Yoga Day. UK has excluded India from relaxed student visa rules, the UN has called for an international probe into Kashmir alleging gross human rights violation and Maldives has denied work visa to 2,000 Indians. But you must feel proud as Indians since there’s no bigger pride than being able to flaunt your faith. A mere chant of Jai Shri Ram and Bharat Mata Ki Jai would soon have all these nations eat out of our hands. I’ve always trusted my Hindu samrat Narendra Modi and still do, but what about you?

Most Indians still don’t have access to basic healthcare, free quality education and a roof on their heads to qualify as decent accommodation. But, you mustn’t lose sleep over these minor irritants. PM Modi’s fitness challenge should adequately take care of your health. Education is no longer a stumbling block to reach high in life. You can draw some inspiration from our own prime minister and Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani. And, as for homes, do have some faith in our leader Modi ji, who has promised to build free homes for every poor person in the country by 2022. This deadline is subject to change, but you ought to be patience as Mahatama Gandhi once said “If patience is worth anything, it must endure to the end of time.”

In the meantime, let’s celebrate the inclusion of Hindu priests into the  Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra cabinet with a hope that other governments up and down the country soon follow suit.


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