Ahmedabad: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's hold over the Hindu vote bank in the state has made organisations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad irrelevant in the battle for Gujarat. He may have tried Sadbhavna Yatra to connect with the Muslims and for national political acceptance, but in the Gujarat elections it is not always about that same spirit.
The Hindu Political identity is central in the Gujarati-Hindu electoral mindspace. And Narendra Modi is the undisputed face of that identity, something that was established in 2002 and forms the core of Moditva. Unlike in 2002, Narendra Modi has consciously stayed away from any overt references to the violence this time, but for his core supporters, he is still seen as a strong defender of the interests of the majority community. "They see him as this big strong guy who is leading them," said Darshan Desai, assistant editor with The Hindu.
In the last decade, the influence of gurus and preachers from religious sects has also grown, adding to an overall climate of religiosity. A majority of the gurus have remained firmly on Modi's stage, adding to his strength. That makes organisations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad or the Bajrang Dal virtually irrelevant in a Modi election. The VHP had led the Sangh Parivar's election campaign in 2002, but today the lack of action at its headquarters in Ahmedabad is a reminder that they have little hold over Modi or the Gujarat politics. "We never asked anyone to vote for the BJP, we only support the leader who speaks in favour of Hindus," VHP leader Kaushik Patel said.
For now, as Modi remains the central focus of the Gujarat campaign, it appears that there is little space for any other leader within the Hindutva universe.