The 'Hindu Swabhiman Jagran Sant Padyatra' of spiritual leaders began in Chhattisgarh on Saturday on the occasion of Mahashivratri to spread the message of social harmony and an appeal to making India a 'Hindu ashtray. The foot march, which is being organized by the Chhattisgarh unit of Akhil Bharatiya Sant Samiti and has the support of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), will culminate after 700 kilometers in a mega gathering of spiritual leaders in Raipur on March 19, one of the organizers said.
The aim is to spread social harmony and raise awareness on Hinduism, VHP Chhattisgarh unit working president Chandrashekar Verma told reporters during the launch of the march from Maa Danteshwari temple in Dantewada."During the yatra, saints will also appeal to people to contribute to making India a Hindu Rashtra. Bharat should have been declared a Hindu Rashtra after Partition. But, unfortunately, it was declared a secular country," he claimed.
The march will also raise awareness on issues like "love jihad", a term often used by right-wing outfits to allege Muslim men are trying to convert Hindu women through love marriages, as well as cow slaughter, he added. Hitting out at the event, Chhattisgarh Chief Bhupesh Baghel said the Bharatiya Janata Party had resorted to the politics of religion "as all its other weapons had become ineffective in the state".
"I want to tell the VHP that if it wants India to be a Hindu Rashtra, the demand should be made to the Centre, where the BJP is in power. They should stage a dharna in Delhi instead of drama in Chhattishgarh," the CM said.
"As far as saints and seers are concerned we respect them. We have developed Ram Van Gaman Path (the route Lord Ram is believed to have taken during his exile) and if saints had taken the same route we would have made all arrangements for them," he added. Assembly polls will be held in the state at the end of the year.