Hindutva chant fails to fetch votes in temple towns

Even as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s claim to fame in Gujarat seems to be Hindutva, the party’s result in its own temple towns does not seem to endorse this. Since 1990, the party’s best performance came in 2007 in which the party won five out of the eight Assembly constituencies which represent these temple towns.

Of the eight constituencies where major temples are located, only Palitana in Bhavnagar district has been with the BJP since 1995. Even Danta, which has the famous Ambaji temple, has not seen a BJP win since 1998.

Chief Minister Narendra Modi in his recently concluded Vivekanand yatra did try to reach out to the people of this constituency by holding a rally there but only time will tell whether his party will be able to make any inroads during this assembly elections. Even in 2002, when Hindutva was the only agenda, the people of this constituency rejected the BJP.

“Religion is not the basis on which the party fights in these areas,” said BJP spokesperson Vijay Rupani. He said that there were several factors like local and caste equations which matter. He said that it was ultimately the candidate who mattered the most for a victory in the elections.

Agreeing with Rupani, party leaders said that one such example was BJP MLA Mahendra Mashru, who joined BJP in 1998 and has been winning the elections from Junagadh, which is also known for the religious seat of Girnar. “Mashru has been winning since then and has a large following as well; here religion has got nothing to do with his victory,’’ said a senior BJP leader.

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