New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a substantial message to the Hindu community in India and abroad by completing the extensive renovation of Kedarnath, another abode of Lord Shiva, after Kashi. This move has strengthened the faith of Hindus associated with Kedarnath as well as Kashi immensely.

PM Modi has been visiting Kedarnath regularly ever since he has become Prime Minister in 2014. By virtue of being a devotee of Lord Shiva, PM Modi has deep faith in Kedarnath. But this time, PM Modi’s visit to Kedarnath and the magnificent way the place has been transformed will send out a special message to the entire Hindu community. PM Modi’s speech after unveiling Kedarnath Dham founder Adi Shankaracharya’s grand idol, is being seen as having some political overtones.

But then Opposition leaders too are now visiting temples and releasing photos from there. But it is only PM Modi who has an impact on the people’s mind by his actions. This time, PM Modi’s pilgrimage to Kedarnath assumes greater significance because of upcoming elections. Barring Punjab, the other states are ruled by the BJP. The saffron party’s prestige is at stake in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Both states are crucial from the point of view of 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The Hindu factor plays a crucial role in both these important states of the Hindi belt. Uttarakhand is known as Devbhoomi where some of PM Modi’s dream projects are underway. Observers believe that these projects may pave the way for BJP’s return to power in Uttarakhand.

The most important project was to reconstruct the grand Kedarnath Dham which has been completed. PM Modi’s visit to Kedarnath has brought the grandeur of the project to public view. Many  believe that this will benefit the BJP in UP and Uttarakhand polls. Two other projects attracting public attention are the all weather road and rail project connecting Kedarnath and Badrinath. These projects will bring major development to Uttarakhand. Moreover, this will be a big achievement in terms of the security of the region bordering China.

The Opposition is also realising the importance of religious visits, but is unable to make an impact for want of a clear strategy. Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are trying to make such visits but are unable to have that kind of impact. Rahul Gandhi went abroad and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra went to Shimla during Diwali which is an important Hindu festival. Neither of them thus sent out a message to Hindus. Using the opportunity, the BJP alleged that the Gandhi family was not aware of Hindu religion and culture; only the family of Maneka Gandhi is from that family which knows the Hindu culture well. Varun Gandhi has been brought up in an atmosphere of Hindu religion so he understands the nuances of that culture.

There is no denying that Hindu sentiments will be playing a significant role in elections in UP and Uttarakhand. The BJP has a strong Hindu card to counter the caste and communal politics in both the states. This is the reason why the saffron party is getting stronger. Strategists believe that the BJP may unite voters of different castes and creed in its favour by using the Hindu factor. Undoubtedly, both the Congress and the SP are trying to use caste politics to corner BJP. Both parties believe that they can stop BJP by the politics of Muslim appeasement, which is being targeted by the BJP.

PM Modi has succeeded in giving the message that Hindu gods and goddesses are given due importance only in his regime. Unveiling of the idol of Adi Shankaracharya, Garbh Grah puja, and massive changes around the Dham give strength to Hindu sentiments. BJP will try to give the message that renovation of pilgrim centres like Kedarnath and Badrinath was done during its regime only. The saffron party will contest UP polls on the basis of issues of Ram Mandi, Kashmir and law and order. After the overhaul of Varanasi, the BJP will cash in on the renovation of Kedarnath. PM Modi also gave a message to former army soldiers and officers in the poll-bound states by celebrating Diwali with soldiers on the border. PM Modi spoke about road construction for four dhams, Kedarnath projects and other projects saying that the next decade belongs to Uttarakhand. PM Modi could not visit Kedarnath last year due to the pandemic. But he makes it a point to visit this pilgrim spot every year.