Thursday, February 07, 2013

BJP-RSS-VHP kumbh, Ayodhya issue resurfaces

New Delhi: The BJP wants to go into the 2014 Lok Sabha election on the agenda of governance and development. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) which had been spearheading the Ayodhya temple agitation wants the issue of building the temple in Ayodhya to be at the top of the election campaign. The Rashtriya Swaymsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological mentor of the party, is mediatiing the discussion between the BJP and VHP. The leaders of the VHP and those from the RSS had a meeting with BJP president Rajnath Singh and other key party leaders here on Thursday. Those who took part in the meeting were: Bhaiyyaji Joshi and Suresh Soni from the RSS, Ashok Singhal and Praveen Togadia from the VHP, L.K.Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Raml Lal, the RSS nominee and organisation general secretary along with Singh from the BJP. A BJP leader speaking on condition of anonymity descirbed it as an “exchange of notes”. He conceded that the BJP is a major party in the country's politics today because of the Ayodhya temple issue, and that the VHP leaders feel that the party does not give enough emphasis and articulate strongly the temple issue. He said the meeting is also a way of “smoothening the creases”, implying that there were differences in emphasis between the BJP and the VHP. He said that the temple issue was there in the NDA manifesto as well, where it was stated that the Ayodhya dispute should be resolved either through a court verdict or through negotiation. He said that the court verdict is out, and option of negotiation is open. Speaking to reporters, VHP president Singhal made a connection between the Kumbh melas and the work done by the VHP. After the 1966 Kumbh, the agitation for cow protection took off, the 1977 Kumbh Mela saw the defeat of the Congress party, and in the 1989 Kumbh, the VHP and the saints decided on the Ayodhya temple agitation. “I will speak later what are the consequences of the 2001 Kumbh,” he said mysteriously. Perhaps it pointed to the defeat of the BJP-led NDA in 2004. In March, 2001, the BJP-led NDA government faced a piquant situation when VHP and others wanted to carry out worship near the disputed area, and the government had to assure the Supreme Court and parliament that the status quo would not be disturbed at the disputed site where a temporary structure housing the idols stands. At the 2013 Kumbh, the VHP and the saints are going to declare the demand for the building of the Ram temple at Ayodhya. There will be a meeting of Margadarsh Mandal comprising 300 saints to set the guidelines on February 6, and this will be followed by the meeting of Dharma Sansad, a larger conclave of saints, which will resolve on the building of the temple in Ayodhya. Singhal said that the courts have no right to decide on the issue, and that parliament should pass a legislation to build a temple on the 70-acre plot (acquired by the Uttar Pradsesh government in 1989) in Ayodhya. Asked whether he was confident that the BJP would come to power in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, he said it did not matter which party was in power. According to him, it was the “power of the saints” that was the driving force. The BJP is once again caught in a cleft as it were, forced to choose between politics of the temple and politics of governance and development. The party leaders seem to feel that they can ride both the horses and optmise the advantages.

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