Narendra Modi will visit Kumbh, but after VHP meet

FP

Gujarat CM Narendra Modi will visit the Maha Kumbh in Allahabad, but only after the VHP's religious congregation there, highly placed BJP sources said on Tuesday. While BJP chief Rajnath Singh is expected to visit the Kumbh on Wednesday, Modi is likely to attend on February 12.

This will be Modi's first visit to a Hindu pilgrimage site since becoming CM. It holds significance in the wake of the RSS-BJP-VHP meeting last week where a decision was taken to emphasise their Hindutva commitment against the "vote-bank politics" of the Congress, particularly after Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde's Hindu terror remarks.

"Hindtuva and good governance are our key differentiators," said a BJP source after the meeting. Modi's Kumbh visit appears to be part of this balancing act.

"His entire effort since 2002 has been to present himself as a mascot of good governance. He has to maintain the image of 'Hindu Hriday Samrat' without eclipsing this new image," said a BJP leader.

The timing is also being seen as crucial, coming six days after the VHP's February 6-7 religious congregation. In fact, even as the VHP meets at the Kumbh on February 6, Modi will be speaking on "modern governance model" at Delhi's SRCC college that day.

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