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THB | Raipur | May 25, 2022:: As part of his ongoing “meet-and-greet” outreach programme, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel visited the Danteshwari temple in Dantewada on Tuesday morning. There he offered a 11 kilometre-long chunari to the deity of the fourteenth-century temple, which is a prominent centre of Hindu pilgrimage in the State.
The government has claimed that the length of the chunari – prepared by over 300 women of DANNEX garments unit, a government-supported garment manufacturing initiative whose units are located in Dantewada – is a world record.
This is not the first time Mr. Baghel has visited a temple during this outreach programme. Earlier, during his Bastar tour, Mr, Baghel reached the Battisa temple in Barsur and offered prayers to Lord Shiva.
During his three and a half year tenure, Mr. Baghel has taken many initiatives to counter the Hindutva narrative of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Be it the Ram Van Gaman Path, which attempts to modify sites where Lord Rama is believed to have passed through during his exile from Ayodhya or the renovation of the world’s only temple with Kaushalya, the mother of Lord Rama, as its deity, there have been many initiatives through which the current Congress regime in the State has tried to convey the message that it wants to create its own brand of “soft Hindutva”.
There is also the two-year-old Godhan Nyay Yojana, under which the government buys cow dung at Rs 2 per kilogram from eligible beneficiaries. Some of the government’s decisions such as allowing a ‘Dharma Sansad’ or ‘Religious Parliament’ in the State have also been questioned after controversial statements were made against Mahatma Gandhi and minorities during the event.
Earlier this month, there were reports of Mr. Baghel and his party colleague and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath having argued in Congress’ Udaipur Chintan Shivir that the party should not shy away from Hindu festivals.
Sushil Anand Shukla, Chairman, Communication Department, Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee, said it was a matter of personal faith and even while he was not the Chief Minister, he would visit the Danteshwari temple to seek blessings. “Even initiatives like Ram Van Gaman Path or revival of the Kaushalya Mata temple is more of a cultural connect that people of the region have with Lord Rama. The Chhattisgarh Chief Minister does not need a display of his faith for political reasons. It’s the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that makes an event out of every religious occasion,” he said.
Referring to the Kawardha riots from last year and the religious conversion issue that the BJP had raised in the past, Mr. Shukla alleged that the BJP had tried to polarize the voters in a State alien to communal politics.
Responding to these allegations and the government’s initiatives around Hindu temples, Santhosh Pandey, the BJP leader and Lok Sabha MP from Rajnandgaon, said that such temple visits were mere token symbolism on the part of the ruling Congress. “They are not bothered about Rama or Krishna and are only concerned about votes. Else, why are they silent about the Gyanvapi mosque issue? Through the Ram Van Gaman initiative, Mr. Baghel is trying to script his punaragaman (return to power) in the State, and it will not succeed.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Baghel continued his interaction with the people of the Southern Bastar region of Dantewada and met many officials.
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