'Jo Ram Ko Laye, Hum Unko Jita Laye': The Hindutva Factor Behind BJP's Win in MP

In rural Madhya Pradesh, the completion of the Ram Temple is a strong emotional issue.

4 min read
Hindi Female

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) clean sweep in Madhya Pradesh (MP) has surprised all of us, even the saffron party itself. There is not one but a combination of factors leading to the Congress’ rout and a saffron surge in the heartland's elections.

“The fact that 11 out of 32 ministers of the Shivraj cabinet lost elections including the powerful Home Minister Narottam Mishra from Datia shows how strong the fatigue factor was in MP. These people lost despite a wave that no one was able to read”, a senior BJP leader told me.

Still, he said, the Congress was not able to exploit the fatigue.

On the other hand, a senior Congress leader said, “This has happened because of the clever thinking by the BJP leadership in Delhi. They isolated Shivraj and fielded some party bigwigs. The party was continuously changing gears as polling day was approaching.”

On the contrary, he claimed, the Congress was almost static in its approach and was banking heavily on Kamal Nath and his appeal.

'Jo Ram ko laye, hum unko jita laye'

Of course, the much talked about Ladli Behna scheme, the cash-in-hand beneficiary program of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to 1.3 crore women voters, is considered the biggest reason behind his win.

But one must not forget the completion of the construction of the Ram temple that led to mobilisation of Hindu votes may have contributed majorly to the defeat of the Congress.

As many as 15 rallies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an almost equal number of days integrated all these issues. Talking about Modi’s guarantee, the prime minister also promised to provide pucca houses to the poor after the elections.

But more importantly, he accused the Congress of declaring Lord Ram as imaginary. The impact of his addresses in rural MP concerning the Ram Temple can now be seen.

As counting was still on and the trends started showing the BJP’s strong position, many people in the state, many of them with no political background, changed their WhatsApp profile picture to Jo Ram ko laye, hum unko jita laye, referring to the temple construction in Ayodhya. In rural Madhya Pradesh, the completion of the Ram Temple is a strong emotional issue.

A jubilant state BJP president VD Sharma said, “It is a huge achievement. When the Congress was creating hurdles, it was the BJP that ensured the construction of the temple. It is linked to the sentiments of crores of people in India.”


Consolidation of Hindu Votes Across Castes

Many voters in rural areas around Bhopal also set WhatsApp statuses of the election campaign with references to the Ram temple. Jingles about the temple were used by Rameshwer Sharma, a hardcore Hindutva face of the BJP and a candidate from the Huzur seat, Bhopal. Sharma won by a margin of over 97,000 votes.

Sharma later said, “Congress is exposed after its so-called soft Hindutva approach. People found it misleading.”

Senior Congress leader Kamal Nath was portrayed as a Hanuman Bhakt after he had constructed a Hanuman temple in Chhindwara in 2014. He also organised discourses of some popular preachers as he attempted to blunt the Hindutva card of the BJP.

“Now we can say that people were not impressed much by this approach of Kamal Nath”, a senior Congress leader said. "Rather by doing so, people compared us with BJP. But as far as Hindutva is concerned, we can’t be as hardcore as the BJP," he added.

“The BJP has also successfully convinced the voters that Congress is a pro-Muslim party”, he rued. “In fact, the consolidation of Hindu votes across castes was also an extremely important factor in this election,” he argued.

As mentioned in an earlier piece, besides freebies like the Ladli Behena scheme costing almost Rs 1,210 crore per month to benefit about 1.3 crore women beneficiaries, the state allocated Rs 358 crore to expand and establish four temples: Devilok in Salkanpur, Ramlok in Orchha, Ravidas Samark in Sagar, and Divya Vanvasi Lok in Chitrakoot.

The Ravidas temple in Sagar, the Bhumi pujan of which was performed by Prime Minister Modi in August this year, is being constructed at a cost of Rs 100 crore.


No Analysis on MP is Complete Without Ladli Behna Scheme

The Ladli Behna Scheme was no doubt a game changer but even Shivraj Singh Chouhan was not talking about the scheme boldly after the BJP’s huge victory.

After the party's victory, his interviews with the media would start with praise for PM Modi and the phrase, Modi ke mann mein MP aur MP ke mann mein Modi. He also talked about the organisational skills of Amit Shah. In one interview, Ladli Behna comes in the last sentence only when some reporter reminds him about the “game changer.”

His own cabinet colleague and 8-time MLA Vijay Shah said, “One scheme can’t make a difference. We don’t make schemes to win elections, we want people’s welfare”. He said this in Harsood, his constituency, when a reporter asked him how important the Ladli Behna factor was in the BJP's victory.

Kailash Vijawargiya, the party’s general secretary and the MLA from Indore did not mention either Shivraj or Ladli Behna while mentioning the reasons behind the BJP’s massive success.

But the scheme did make a difference. It impacted as many as 37 seats where the BJP was able to very successfully mobilise its beneficiaries.

Women in this election have also emerged as a new vote bank. They have also been promised pucca houses. In his rallies, PM Modi spoke about women's reservation in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, and added that Congress had delayed it for years.

"Modi fulfilled this guarantee given to his sisters and daughters. Modi has opened every door for our daughters. Today, our daughters are joining the army, and new avenues have opened up for them to become officers in the army," he said.

He also lauded the state's women-centric schemes such as the Ladli Behna and Ladli Lakshmi schemes of Shivraj.

Like traditional vote banks of the past, especially the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, a large number of women in India also continue to be one of the most vulnerable sections of society. Reservations in the Lok Sabha to Ladli Behena are all aimed at attracting their support and votes.

(The author is a senior journalist based in Madhya Pradesh. This is an opinion article and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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Topics:  Madhya Pradesh 

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