The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is ready go full steam ahead with their demand for the Ram temple. VHP working president Alok Kumar said the outfit has charted a clear course of action, and that the Hindus have waited for far too long. Speaking with Firstpost, Kumar rebutted the charge that the VHP demand is tantamount to defying the Supreme Court and is aimed at polarising the electorate before next year's general election.
Why the rush for the Ram temple now?
Almost 500 years have passed since the demolition of Ram temple in Ayodhya. For the past 68 years, we’ve been contesting the case in the courts. For the past seven years, the case has been in the Supreme Court. As the earlier Supreme Court bench headed by then chief justice Dipak Misra was hearing the case, the sadhus of Uttar Pradesh Dharma Sansad decided to wait for the judgment. It didn't happen and the court still hasn't settled the issue. While it is one of the most important cases, it seems it isn't a priority for the apex court. We have to look for an alternative. The Hindus have waited for a long time, so it's unfair to say we're in a hurry.
We’re clear that the construction of Ram temple must be initiated through legislation. On 5 October, a large number sadhus, including those from Ayodhya, met in Delhi and said Hindus couldn’t wait an eternity. They demanded that the government introduce legislation and gave a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind.
Does the demand have to do with the 2019 polls? Critics say it is aimed at polarising the electorate...
That's not our intent. However, a movement of such magnitude has a collateral effect. A Congress leader at a press conference described Rahul Gandhi as ‘janeu dhari Hindu’ (one who wears the Brahmanical thread) and the latter publicises his visit to temples, Kailash Mansarovar and offers milk on Shiv ling at Mahakaleshwar shrine in Ujjain. The manifesto of Madhya Pradesh Congress promises that if the party comes to power, it will open gaushalas and talks about gau mutra. So, who’s attempting to polarise?
Our advice is that the party (Congress) must take a logical step forward and support the bill (on the construction of Ram temple). The construction of Ram Mandir is a legitimate demand of Hindus, and if a party raises pitch against it, it is inviting polarisation. Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, during the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly election, announced tickets for 97 Muslim candidates. That was meant to polarise voters. Our only demand is: Give us the temple and we’ll go back to our barracks.
Are you prepared to defy the Supreme Court?
No, we’re not defying the court. Parliament and judiciary have different jurisdictions and powers. Parliament has the jurisdiction to make laws. We’ve recently seen how the apex court judgment in the SC/ST Act case had a wider implication and led to huge public outrage. The government filed a review petition and during the pendency of the case, the Act was amended by Parliament. In the Shah Bano case, Parliament—during the tenure of the Rajiv Gandhi government—reversed the SC judgment under pressure from orthodox Muslims.
Are you ready with a plan of action?
Yes. We’re meeting the sadhus, all Members of Parliament, all political parties and will seek their support. Rallies will be held in all the 543 parliamentary constituencies across the country to create awareness. Three big rallies are scheduled in Nagpur, Ayodhya and Bengaluru on 25 November. At the Ayodhya rally, we’re expecting more than one lakh people. All these rallies will culminate in a mega public rally at Ramlila Maidan on 9 December.
It has already taken the shape of a movement. Besides VHP, the BJP, the RSS, the Sangh Parivar affiliates and all Hindu groups and general public will be a part of this historical rally and the movement. Many parties outside the NDA may find it difficult to oppose the demand. As Lok Sabha election is expected in May 2019, one has to answer the Ram Janmabhoomi issue.
Do you think it is easier because a majority of the states are with the BJP?
We’re seeking a substantial majority of both Houses in this Bill. We’ll get it. Those in the BJP are ‘Ram bhakts’. The BJP has been pursuing this issue for years. LK Advani ji, as the then president of the BJP, took out the Ram Rath Yatra for the construction Ram Mandir way back in 1990 from Somnath to Ayodhya (but was arrested in Bihar). Lots of people in BJP, VHP and Sangh Parivar have made sacrifices and waited for decades. Now, if it’s the right time and things are in our favour, why not?
Are you sure to get support on this Bill from non-BJP parties?
Except Muslim League and the Left parties, all other political parties will find it difficult to oppose the Bill. They can’t afford to antagonise the majority: Hindus.
Congress MP Ashok Chavan said on 13 November the Ram Mandir issue doesn’t have emotional connect with the people anymore. On the same day, a Congress MLA from Madhya Pradesh called the RSS a ‘terrorist organisation’. Your take?
By making such statements, the Congress is making a mockery of itself and self-destructing. Either they are oblivious of the ground realities or they are pretending to be ‘secular’. Hindus, in general, won’t appreciate it.
Updated Date: Nov 16, 2018 19:05 PM