The Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led government in Madhya Pradesh, in what appears to be a last-minute change of strategy, is trying to bring the Brahmins to justice months ahead of parliamentary elections by establishing a community welfare council.
Moreover, the government has also announced that it will develop the Bhagwan Sri Parashurama Lok religious corridor in Janapav, Indore. Temples have meanwhile gained more power over their own land.
“We have decided that the government will not have any control over the activities of the temples and that the auctioning of temple lands will be done by priests and not by collectors,” Chouhan said. “Brahmins have always protected religion and culture. So for their welfare we will establish a Brahmin Welfare Board,” he added.
Madhya Pradesh has 21,104 temples including two Jyotirlingas. Of these, 1,320 temples have more than 4 hectares of farmland. For temples without arable land, priests are paid an honorarium of Rs 5,000 per month.
The government’s decision has raised questions, especially as Brahmins make up only 5 to 6 percent of the state’s electorate.
A clue seems to lie in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state. The Prime Minister visited Rewa, located in Vindhyas, probably the only region in the country where the upper castes make up the majority of the population. In some assembly places of Satna and Rewa districts, the population of Brahmins exceeds 40 percent.
In 2018, the Vindhya region prevented Congress from taking power with a full majority. The area now appears to be emerging as one of the poll-bound state’s most intriguing battlegrounds.
In 2018, BJP won 24 out of 30 seats in Vindhyas – down from 17 in 2013. The number of congress seats fell from 11 to six.
But two recent events — the rise of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi party in the area and a new party led by MLA Narayan Tripathi — have given the BJP some cause for concern, sources said.
In Rewa and Singrauli, the BJP lost the urban local body polls last year when AAP made its Madhya Pradesh debut with a victory in Singrauli. Mr Tripathi, who previously belonged to the BJP, meanwhile has flexed muscles and claims his party will compete for 30 assembly seats in the region.
The Congress has mocked the BJP’s move, saying that after 18 years the chief minister is considering paying respect to the Brahmins. “Until now he kept ignoring them in the cabinet, now he is making announcements to woo the Brahmins,” Congress spokesman KK Mishra said.
Claiming that Mr. Chouhan has made announcements in Janapav, Parshuram’s hometown, he said, “What happened to those announcements?”
“It should not be viewed from an election or voting point of view,” said BJP leader Rahul Kothari.
“Let the Congress make accusations, but they must first answer for the condition of the temples during their tenure. They must answer to the Ramvan Path Gaman,” he added.