The Telegraph
Saturday , January 28 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Don’t look for Mickey in divine Disneyland

Lucknow, Jan. 27: If Ram cannot win it votes any more, the BJP has a ready backup in “backward-caste icon” Krishna.

And with temple politics having lost steam, the party is willing to give “Disneyland” politics a chance.

The BJP today released its Uttar Pradesh poll manifesto promising a “spiritual Disneyland” in the Mathura-Vrindavan area, based on the theme of Krishna’s life, if voted to power.

If that sounds similar to Mayawati’s penchant for theme parks, the BJP wants to compete with her in her favourite hobby too. It has pledged statues to backward caste heroes such as Sant Kabir at the parks she has built and filled with images of Dalit icons and elephants.

The Ram temple merely gets a cursory nod in the manifesto: “The party is committed to removing all obstacles towards building the Ram temple in Ayodhya.”

A party insider said the focus on Krishna would help the party gain a foothold among the Other Backward Classes.

“Ram is an upper caste (Kshatriya) while Krishna is an OBC (born a Kshatriya, he was brought up by a Yadav foster mother),” he said, adding that Krishna devotees made up a sizeable section in eastern Uttar Pradesh and among Bihari migrants.

This is the first heartland election in decades where the BJP manifesto makes just one mention of the Ram temple, that too in the introductory remarks.

“The Ram temple is not a political issue, it is a cultural issue,” state party chief Surya Pratap Shahi tried to explain. He said the Mathura-Vrindavan park would depict episodes from Krishna’s life in light and sound.

The main body of the manifesto says: “Keeping in mind Lord Krishna, the party proposes to construct a spiritual Disneyland in Mathura-Vrindavan even as it is keen to ensure that the purity of such spiritual tales revolving round his life is not tampered with for commercial gain.”

Sudheendra Kulkarni, an L.K. Advani aide who has recently been re-inducted into the BJP, played a key role in drafting the manifesto. He told The Telegraph: “Vrindavan and Mathura abound in mythological tales on the life of Krishna. These can regale devotees and tourists.... So the party proposes government involvement in promoting this idea.”

Cong ‘vision’

The Congress released on Friday its Vision 2020 document for Uttar Pradesh, that woos Dalits with a promise of a sub-quota in jobs, education and panchayats.