Amid preparations for the upcoming 27 bypolls in Madhya Pradesh, Kamal Nath appeared in a 'Bhagwa' avatar on Twitter, while hosting a recital of 'Hanuman Chalisa' at his residence on Tuesday, ahead of the Ram Temple ceremony to be held in Ayodhya. The former Chief Minister also announced that 11 silver bricks would be donated to Ayodhya on Tuesday on behalf of the state Congress.
“We are sending 11 silver bricks to Ayodhya on behalf of the public of Madhya Pradesh,” announced Nath at his residence after recital of 'Hanuman Chalisa'. These bricks were bought by the Congress family by offering donations, he added.
August 5 is a historical day awaited by the whole country, said the MPCC chief who changed his Twitter profile picture on Tuesday. "India is a widely diverse country but still everyone is standing beneath a single flag (for the Ram temple construction). The temple construction is being done with unanimity and agreement as we believe in culture of integrity," he said.
Referring to the 'puja' and recital of Hanuman Chalisa, he said the party's sentiments were initiated by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1985. In Gandhi's maiden speech in 1989, he had said that there should be 'Ram Rajya' in the country, Nath said.
“We bow down to late Rajiv Gandhi ji who had got the locks opened (at the disputed site) from where the Ram temple's legacy had started,” he said, while claiming that it was the intent and wish of Rajiv Gandhi that this temple be constructed. “Had he been alive today, he would have been the happiest," he added. "We all are happy and I take this opportunity to express this happiness on behalf of the public of the state."
Kamal Nath also took a dig at the Bharatiya Janata Party. He asked how the BJP could "own a patent on religion" and any particular deity. "Whenever we hold any religious function, BJP has a stomachache. We also have a religious sentiment like any other country man," he said.
The Congress party had called for 'Hanuman Chalisa' recitals at the homes of party leaders and workers on Tuesday. Nath is a a staunch devotee of lord Hanuman and always prefers undertaking key assignments on Tuesday.
The Congress leader also put up a giant picture of lord Hanuman with Lord Ram, Laxman and Goddess Sita.
Congress Party IT cell too flooded social media with various religious initiatives undertaken by the Kamal Nath government in the past, including the development of Ram Van Gaman Path, Gaushala, Om circuit, development of Mahakal and Omkareshwar temples, among others.
Even while other Congress dignitaries kept silent on the issue of Ram Temple, Nath openly welcomed the construction. However, BJP saw a political end in Kamal Nath’s religious moves.
BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal said that when the Congress party was in power, it had engaged in sullying 'Bhagwa' everywhere and was now reciting 'Hanuman Chalisa' and 'Sunderkand'. He added that Nath’s moves were "nothing but gimmicks" to reach out to Hindu voters in the assembly bypolls.
Nath's party colleague Digvijaya Singh has been drawing criticism for calling the August 5 date inauspicious for the Ram Temple Ceremony.
Minister Bhupendra Singh too criticised the Congress party’s stand, saying that the Ram temple issue had been raised by the BJP under LK Advani and that the Congress party had nothing to do with it. "Ram temple, Hanuman Chalisa and other things are just vote bank issues for them and have no link with their faith," alleged Singh.
Congress spokesperson Manak Agrawal said that Kamal Nath had been seen in a 'Bhagwa' avatar before, as well, but the leader had only put the picture of it on Twitter, now. “He had established a mega Hanuman statue in Chhindwara and used to perform puja in Bhagwa attire,” said Agrawal, adding that everyone in the Congress party had faith in lord Hanuman, which is why the recital took place.
On being asked whether the events were being carried out to prevent BJP from stealing credit for the Ram temple credit, Agrawal said that lord Ram was "revered by everyone". The spokesperson said that the event should not be seen from a political perspective, and added that lord Ram was revered by each Congress party worker, who wanted the Ram temple to be built in Ayodhya.
According to political analysts, Kamal Nath's actions are important with respect to the assembly bypolls. With the BJP riding high on the Ram temple construction, the Congress party is apprehensive of losing out due to religious sentiments in the bypolls, said a political analyst from Bhopal.
Sixteen of the bypoll seats are in the Gwalior-Chambal region which shares its border with Uttar Pradesh; and is likely to be influenced by Hindutva sentiments post the 'Bhumi Pujan' which takes place on August 5. These areas share similarities of culture, language, with the neighbouring areas of UP.