In just a matter of a few hours, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad is all set to hold the second ‘Jalabhishek Yatra’ taking the same route in Haryana’s trouble-torn Nuh despite being denied permission for it. What makes it tricky for chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar is that the decision to have another yatra was essentially taken by village councils, a powerful unit of the rural parts of the state that play a crucial role during elections.
With the law and order situation ahead of G20 as well as political balancing before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in mind, Khattar is in a tight spot.
The VHP has made it categorically clear: the yatra will take place. Its logic is that since this is a ‘tirtha yatra’, there is no question of either seeking or being denied permission. August 28 is the last Monday of the Hindu month of Sawan.
“This is a nation of pilgrimage. No one has sought any permission and, hence, the question of denial doesn’t arise,” said VHP spokesperson Vinod Bansal, adding that the yatra will start at 11 am. The Hindutva outfit’s international working president Alok Kumar said, “Maintaining peace and harmony in the last month of Sawan, Hindu society will complete its dharma yatra in Mewat.”
The VHP does not consider it a second yatra but an attempt to complete the first one, which was interrupted as it came under attack from external elements. Mounting pressure on the police, the VHP called for “strict action” against Ferozepur Jhirka MLA Mamman Khan of the Congress for inciting the mob violence.
In the budget session in February, Khan had gone into a diatribe against cow protection in the area. It is claimed that the Mewat region is a hub of illegal cow smuggling.
Now the dilemma for the ruling party in the state is that it is not exactly the VHP, but the khaps that have given a call for this yatra.
Khap panchayats are an influential part of rural Haryana and can influence voting patterns. During elections, many MLAs seek their “blessings”. To vehemently be seen against the yatra is not just “anti-VHP” but also “anti-khap”.
After the contest in 10 Lok Sabha seats during the general election, the assembly polls will take place in 90 constituencies of Haryana. In such a politically crucial juncture, Khattar cannot afford to offend a Hindutva organisation and, most definitely, not the khaps.
The G20, moreover, will begin early next month in New Delhi where top world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, will be in attendance. The global focus will remain on New Delhi, and if Nuh experiences another spate of communal violence that spreads to ‘millennium city’ Gurugram, it stands to sully India’s image.
No wonder, the chief minister is walking a tightrope faced with a situation between the devil and the deep blue sea where he needs to keep the law and order situation under control without offending any stakeholders.
When News18 visited Nuh on Sunday, it found a large-scale presence of paramilitary forces on the proposed yatra route.
With inputs from News18