Is VHP a spent force in Uttar Pradesh?
Neither the saints nor the common people of Ayodhya town were enthused by the VHP’s chaurasi kosi parikrama.
Lucknow: It’s time the BJP reworked its Uttar Pradesh strategy. The Ayodhya Ram temple controversy is all but dead and its utility as a vote-catching proposition might be over.
Its latest attempt to gauge the public response to the issue through the Vishwa Hindu Parishad-sponsored chaurasi kosi parikrama might have made it aware of the fact. It would also have realized that the VHP is no more the force in the state it used to be.
Neither the saints nor the common people of Ayodhya town displayed any interest in the parikrama, a move aimed at reviving public interest in the Ram temple issue. The response from other parts of the state was lukewarm too.
“Their programme did not succeed as the full public support they were expecting was not there. By now people know that they (the VHP) are liars. In fact, the organization has lost its credibility and the call for parikrama was an attempt to regain the lost ground. They failed as people refused to be fooled by them,” said Gyan Das, the Mahant of Hanuman Garhi in Ayodhya and also the chairman of Bhartiya Akhara Parishad. He said sadhus are not supposed to even cross a river during these months. The VHP’s choice of time for the parikrama “shows the non-seriousness of their intention”.
In a departure from its usual practice, the organization had taken care to ensure maximum publicity for its programme and ensured that statements were issued to the media on a daily basis. It even provided photographs of the event. Despite the effort, the event was a damp squib. All the arrests were ceremonial and most of those detained by the police were local workers of the BJP. The absence of angry reaction to the government’s action was revealing in itself. The absence of the big champions of Ram Mandir such as Kalyan Singh and Vinay Katiyar further exposed the weakness of the movement.
“Organisations like the VHP have lost their relevance in today’s times. Their bases are shrinking. Their tactic is to throw a stone in peaceful water and see how far the ripples go. This parikrama was one of such act,” says Farzand Ahmad, a senior political commentator. According to Ahmad, such programmes become successful when they are people’s movement but that element is lacking these days. Today’s youth are more concerned about issues relating to their education and livelihood.
“The fact is that the BJP, while ruling the country under the banner of National Democratic Alliance (NDA), never talked about the Ram Mandir. The issue gains importance only before the elections. This time the party was trying to test the waters through the VHP,’’ he added.
The BJP, however, denies the allegation.
Party spokesperson Vijay Bahadur Pathak said, “The BJP does not need to dig so deep to find an issue for the elections. The party is focusing on corruption in the UPA and development of the country during the NDA government. We are ruling in three states, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, and all three states have been recognised for their development work. Chhattisgarh is being appreciated for its food scheme, Madhya Pradesh for women schemes and Gujarat for total development. Even today people talk about the work done during the rule of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.”
According to the BJP leaders, the sadhus would have conducted their parikrama peacefully but the state government reacted to it by deploying force and arresting the saints. And this happened because the Samajwadi Party (SP) government wants to create a communal environment in the state, which suits them.
Nonetheless, realising the failure of the VHP gimmick, BJP has now moved on and is now working on wooing farmers. The draft of the plan is ready – Kisan Adhikar March in Lucknow and Delhi in the current month in which the party would ensure the presence of its national president Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah, as well.
According to Ballia residents, at least 45 bodies were seen floating at the Ujiyar, Kulhadia and Bharauli ghats. However, district authorities did not tell the exact number of bodies found.
As a preventive measure, the university had preponed the summer vacations from 15 May to 4 May. The university will now open on 5 July.
When official claims are scrutinised in the context of long queues at cremation grounds and large-scale discrepancies in data, the picture becomes even more alarming.