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A very special Dussehra: How parties plan to use the festival for political purposes

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat set the tone for the kind of Dussehra that will be celebrated by politicians on Tuesday.

Bhagwat used the occasion of Dussehra to address the RSS cadre and praise the Narendra Modi government for the surgical strikes by the Indian Army against the terror launch pads across the Line of Control.

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

"Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is a part of India," said Bhagwat. "We all know that the outrage in Kashmir is because of forces across the border," he said, praising the central government again.

"But we gave a proper response to them. The Indian Army gave a proper message. And the people behind the commotion in Kashmir got the message that there is a limit to tolerance," he said, clearly referring to Pakistan.

Bhagwat also said that there was a need to promote nationalism in Jammu and Kashmir and said that gau rakshaks who were working within the laws of the society were good people.

The speech given by the RSS chief is a good example of the politics behind Dussehra and what we can expect from other political speeches to come.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will all deliver speeches on Tuesday.

And like Bhagwat's speech, we can expect the surgical strikes to come up in all their speeches.

With PM Modi's visit to the historic Aishbagh Ramlila in Lucknow, this will be the first time that a Prime Minister of the country celebrates Dussehra outside the national capital. Home Miniter Rajnath Singh will also accompany the PM on his visit.

Modi's visit assumes an added significance because of assembly polls due next year in Uttar Pradesh where the saffron party is making a concerted bid to come back to power after a gap of 15 years and is up against ruling Samajwadi Party and main opposition Mayawati-led BSP.

The Aishbagh Ramlila is also seen as a symbol of pluralistic culture, also called 'Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb', as Muslim rulers patronised it and allotted it space equal to Eidgah, which is situated right next to it.

In the absence of strong regional leaders, BJP is again banking on Modi's appeal to power its campaign in the state, with which it won the Lok Sabha polls, riding on a national wave in his support. However, it is perceived to have slipped since the Lok Sabha polls.

The party had earlier said that Modi will be in the state every month before the campaign picks up when he is expected to address rallies and attend more events.

From the Opposition parties, one of the most prominent speeches will be that by Rahul Gandhi at the Ramlila maidan in New Delhi, which is expected to take place after 5 pm.

It will be interesting to observe what Rahul Gandhi says after his 'khoon ki dalali' remark sparked outrage in the country from many people and the ruling party.

"You (Modi) are hiding behind the blood of soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir and those who carried out the surgical strikes for India. You are exploiting their sacrifices, which is very wrong," Rahul Gandhi had said.

Arvind Kejriwal's speech will also be significant, especiialy after the flak he got for asking Modi to respond to Pakistan's allegations that the surgical strikes were fake.

It's not just Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi though. A lot of other political bigwigs like President Pranab Mukherjee, vice-president Hamid Ansari, BJP president Amit Shah, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Union ministers Harshvardhan, Dharmendra Pradhan and Nitin Gadkari, former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, former PM Manmohan Singh, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and BJP leader Sambit Patra will also attend the Ramlilas on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to this report in The Economic Times.

A very political Dussehra is definitely on the cards.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Oct 11, 2016 12:47 PM

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