* On a sultry August evening, a motley group of people gathered in Lucknow's Hazratganj is all ears to a unique and new idea being talked about - Make "cow the national animal."
* In a mofussil town in Uttar Pradesh, a group of women sit huddled in a room, some with their teenage daughters in tow. It's the 'Saptahik Satsang Milan' organized by the Durga Vahini where the women are being told how to teach their daughters ways to know whether the boy they are planning to marry is a true Hindu. "Ask the boy to recite a few popular shlokas or put on a rudraksh mala," they are told.
* On December 23, an organization - Dharm Jagran - is planning a mass re-conversion drive, called "ghar wapsi", of Hindus who converted to Islam.
LUCKNOW: It's not just the saffron leaders that are chanting the Hindutva mantra. All across Uttar Pradesh, which paved the way for BJP to ride back to power in the Lok Sabha elections, heightened activity around Hindutva issues has been creating a frenzied atmosphere. Now, as BJP ceded eight of its Assembly seats to Samajwadi Party in the recent by-elections, the question many are asking is - Did the Saffron brigade push Hindutva envelope too hard in UP?
While leaders like Yogi Adityanath, the MP from Gorakhpur who gave a vitriolic speech in Parliament during the debate on "appeasement of a particular community", went hammer and tongs with speeches like "no more Jodhas will marry Akbars", it is the foot soldiers of Hindutva that have been spreading the message.
So when women walk into a "saptahik satsang" of the Durga Vahini, VHP's women's wing, they are first told about tales of brave Indian women, in an attempt to inculcate traditional culture. Then they are also taught to "educate" their daughters to safeguard themselves from men trying to marry them with the aim of religious conversion.
And, at their Shakti Upasana Kendras, women are taught exercises and ways to keep fit along with training in using the lathi, knife, sword and even guns, for self defence.
UP's cities, towns and villages are also witnessing mushrooming of publications that talk of Hindutva issues. In its first issue that was published in August this year, 'Narad Parikrama', a four-page, all-colour pullout spoke about the need for a ban of cow slaughter. The publication also mentions the need for propagating principles of Hinduism.
Dharm Jagran, a frontal organization of the RSS, is busy planning a re-conversion drive to mark Swami Shraddhanand Balidan Diwas on December 23, where they plan to bring about 5,000 people, who had converted to Islam, back into the Hindu fold, said its in-charge for Western UP Rajeswar Singh. He claims last year they could "re-convert" about 1,500.
The plans were turned into action in the last week of August in an Aligarh village where 72 Valmikis who had become Christians some 20 years back were re-converted to Hinduism after the church belonging to the 7th Day Adventists was turned into a temple. All this was done under the supervision of Dharm Jagran members who called it a 'homecoming'.
Also scaling up its activities will be the Bajrang Dal. To begin with, its annual blood donation camp on November 2 to mark 'Sacrifice Day' - the day the first incident of firing on kar sevaks took place in Ayodhya - will be much larger affair this year. "While he used to have about 5,000 volunteers in our camps, this year, we are targeting about 1 lakh volunteers who would donate blood," It is also planning a camp to create awareness about issues at a three-day programme next month in Haridwar in neighbouring Uttarakhand.
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