In what seems to be a desperate attempt to regain lost electoral grounds, former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and Samajwadi Party leader, Akhilesh Yadav has declared that he will build a magnificent Vishnu temple in the Chambal region. The SP leader’s announcement, as reported by Hindi daily Jagran, includes building a magnificent temple along the lines of the famous Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia. With this announcement, Akhilesh Yadav wants to put on a new gimmick of soft-Hindutva with the end goal of wooing Hindu voters to his party. The temple, as announced by Akhilesh Yadav, would be constructed in Etawah on the condition that the people of the state bring SP back to power in UP. The tall announcement by the leader also includes a proposal to set up a 2,000 acres large city named after Bhagwan Vishnu around the premises of the temple. Angkor Wat, the 12th century temple located in Cambodia’s Sian Reap province is a 400-acre temple complex dedicated to Hindu gods. Bhagwan Vishnu is the presiding deity of the temple complex which is also one of the most prominent historical and tourist sites in Cambodia. It also holds the distinction of being the largest religious monument in the world as is signified by its name which translates to ‘Capital Temple’.
An announcement of this magnitude by Akhilesh Yadav is surprising considering the way in which he sidelined the majority population of his state throughout his term as the CM of UP. With BJP coming to power in the state with a massive majority there are simply very few avenues left for the SP and other parties like BSP and Congress. The rout which they faced in the Lok Sabha 2014 elections and the state elections of 2017 have very likely forced them to change their ways in the state and also on a national scale. Congress President Rahul Gandhi was seen visiting temples and taking blessings from Hindu saints during the election campaigns in Karnataka. Akhilesh Yadav too is following the same plan to gain access to the votes of the Hindu population. While UP deputy chief minister and BJP leader Keshav Prasad Maurya had earlier proclaimed that BJP was willing to bring a bill for the Ram Janambhoomi temple in Ayodhya if it had the numbers in the Rajya Sabha, Akhilesh and his allies seem to be raising the Vishnu temple issue to divert attention. This ploy is also being given by the SP leader to hide their own inefficiencies and partialities committed during their 5 year rule in the state which was brought to an end by CM Yogi Adityanath led BJP in 2017
Now that the Lok Sabha 2019 elections are just a few months away, Akhilesh and SP seem to be in the mood to make amends for their past mistakes. It will however not at all be easy for Akhilesh Yadav and SP to whitewash all the horrors they have unleashed on the Hindu population in their rule. From Mulayam Singh Yadav’s orders to the police to open fire on karsewaks in 1990, to his justifications of the afore mentioned horrendous act which came in 2017, Akhilesh Yadav has a lot to apologise for. Under his rule as CM too Akhilesh Yadav decided to withdraw cases filed against 16 prominent Muslim leaders who were involved in Muzzafarnagar riots, the names include MP Qader Rana and Congress MP Saeeduzzaman amongst others. Clearly siding with the minority community throughout his tenure the former UP CM had also brought in many new welfare schemes which benefitted members of the Muslim community. Today when Akhilesh looks to change his stance post his debacle in the previous elections, he runs the risk of not finding a connect with the Hindu voter base while the Muslim community might go farther from him. If Muslims too decide to look the other way from Akhilesh and SP, the fate of the party might very well be thought to be sealed in the state, the alliance with BSP won’t help SP either considering his fall from grace. It seems Akhilesh Yadav has learned a few tricks on being a ‘icchadhari Hindu‘ from his fellow dynast, Rahul Gandhi.