April 09, 2020
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No, Prime Minister

Despite Vajpayee, the VHP and Bajrang Dal stick to their temple plan

No, Prime Minister
The 'musings', it seems, are going to remain just that. For, despite the prime minister's Kumarakom lines—in which he backtracked on his earlier statement that the temple will be constructed at Ramjanmabhoomi—the mandir-building plans of the Sangh parivar have not been affected in the least. In fact, both the vhp and the Bajrang Dal are interpreting Vajpayee's recent statement in a manner that best suits their agenda.

Says Bhagwan Jaiswal, vhp's Ayodhya pranth president, "When Atalji says that the present status quo should not be disturbed, he means that Ram lalla should continue to reside in the janmabhoomi and nowhere else. So we are only moving ahead to provide the apt shelter to our god." vhp and Bajrang Dal leaders seem only too enthused with the PM's statement and discount the fact that Vajpayee had said that his government would come down heavily on those who disturb the status quo.

Indeed, even after the PM's musings, the vhp has gone ahead and installed a model of the mandir at Allahabad for the Kumbh Mela. This model is larger than the one on display at Karsevakpuram, Ayodhya. At the vhp camp, this 21 feet long, 11 feet wide and 8.5 feet high marble model will be kept on display in a specially constructed 100 sq m enclosure. "This will enable devotees to take parikramas of the temple which they've been long waiting for," explains Avadh Kumar Mishra, Bajrang Dal convenor in UP.

Says Mahant Ramachandra Paramhans, the torchbearer of the Ramjanmabhoomi agitation, who has already reached Allahabad, "It is his majboori (compulsion) as PM of the country to make such statements and it is for us to carry out what is right for the Hindu samaj." The fervour of the Sangh parivar will peak when the Kumbh Mela begins on January 9. "It's at this holy meeting that we'll decide the date to start the shifting of the structures of the Ram mandir," says Jaiswal. He adds that the vhp isn't concerned with what decision Vajpayee makes or what action the government takes. "We're here only to respect the sentiments of the Hindus and follow the diktats of our religious orders."

The saffron brigade has drawn up an elaborate schedule for the Kumbh Mela. On January 15 and 16, the Bajrang Dal will be holding a governing council meeting where representatives from 40 countries will attend. A meeting of the state convenors on January 17 and 18 will follow. On January 19, at least 10,000 sants from all over India will meet to decide the date for the construction of the Ram temple. The date will be announced on January 21. According to vhp leaders, the temple issue will be the main agenda at all the meetings.

The vhp and Bajrang Dal are determined not to lose any time after the meeting of religious heads in Allahabad. Leaders of both groups are also hopeful that all construction activity will be over by March 31 after which the Ram temple can be put together at Ayodhya.
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