Mumbai, (The Hindu): Often accused of minority appeasement by its opponents, the Congress is set to enter unexplored territory, bringing Hindu saints and monks into the party fold, but with the condition that they adhere to the party’s “secular tradition”.
The party will organise a Hindu Dharmasabha in the city after Navratri, followed by a mahayagya.
On Sunday, over hundred saints and monks met the party’s Mumbai unit chief Sanjay Nirupam, as the first step to set up a forum for them. Dhyanyogi Omdasji Maharaj will head the forum.
“If we can be pally with imams, then why not Hindu priests and saints? I personally send eidi to all the imams in Mumbai every year, and I perform puja every day. There are hundreds of Hindu priests who do not identify with the extremism of BJP and sangh parivar. Shouldn’t it be my responsibility to ensure they come to Congress?” Mr. Nirupam said.
The former Lok Sabha MP said his party had never tried to bring this community closer. “We too support cow protection efforts, but do not lynch innocents. We have to challenge our opponents’ attempts to portray the party as being anti-Hindu. These saints and monks oppose the extremist ideologies of ruling parties, and identify with the Congress,” he said.
The forum aims at clearing the extremist and communal projection of Hinduism by right-wing groups. Omdasji Maharaj said, “We had approached the Congress with a proposal to set up a forum to solve problems faced by us, temples, trusts and the Hindu community. Based on the proposal, an organisation has been formed.”
Mr Nirupam’s efforts, don’t have many takers within the party at present, except for Congress incharge for Maharashtra, Mohan Prakash, who is said to have approved the experiment. Based on the observations from the initiative, the party will decide whether to expand it.
“This was always uncharted territory for us. But I’m sure there will a positive response to the Congress’s secular and inclusive appeal,” Mr. Nirupam said.
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