The Bharatiya Janata Party's Unnao MP Sakshi Maharaj played a pivotal role in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. Like many other prominent BJP leaders, he was closely associated with the temple movement. He is also currently under trial as one of the accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
The BJP leader, however, failed to make it to the list of invitees for an august gathering at Ayodhya for Ram Temple bhoomi pujan on August 5. In conversation with Outlook’s Jeevan Prakash Sharma, Sakshi Maharaj said he will blame his destiny for not being a part of the event. Excerpts:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today laid the foundation stone for the construction of the Ram Temple. What do you have to say about it?
It is a historic day and I am elated to see that what I had dreamt long ago is turning into a reality. As I lead a spiritual as well as political life, I feel that my purpose of entering into politics for the sake of Ram Temple has been fulfilled today. I never felt so overjoyed before. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, his government and the Supreme Court of India have made the construction of the Ram Temple possible, something which seemed impossible until few years ago.
Do you feel disappointed for not being invited to the bhoomi pujan?
The fight for the construction of Ram temple was not something that started 20, 30 or 50 years ago. It started 500 years ago and we don’t know how many people sacrificed their lives. It is correct that I played a pivotal role with many other leaders for this to become a reality. I still remember how I took out bodies of kar sevaks from the Saryu river during police firing in 1990. I performed the last rites of Kothari bothers who had come from Kolkata for kar seva and were shot dead. When nobody wanted to visit Srinagar for Shila Pujan, Ashok Singhal ji asked me to go there. I risked my life and went there. In Delhi, I organised a religious event with 5000 saints which had never ever happened in the past.
I still remember when the then UP chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav had said that he would not allow anyone to carry on kar seva in Ayodhya, I told him that I would come back with more people and no force will be able to stop us.
But now I think it is immaterial to discuss who was invited and who wasn’t as all of us had one ambition—construction of a grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya. If we have achieved that objective, we have achieved everything. If Prime Minister is laying the foundation stone, it must be his destiny to do that. But, yes, it would have been better had those people who were charge-sheeted in Ayodhya case or risked their lives for this cause also been made a part of this historic event. I will only say that those who were present at the historic event have the blessings of Lord Ram.
Among those present at today’s ceremony were also people who had in the past even criticised the temple movement? If they were invited, why not you?
When I watched the live transmission, I could see a lot of faces who were never a part of the movement. I can only say that they have Lord Ram’s blessings and they are fortunate to be a part of it. These people might have performed some sacred work in their past life and I might have committed a sin in my previous life. That’s why they were there, and I was not.
I have been the part of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement since the 80s. I was not related to politics or the BJP distantly. I flagged off LK Advani’s Somnath Yatra, organised Bajrang Dal in Delhi and when I became an MP from Mathura, it became centre of Ram Temple movement. I suffered terror attack at Lal Chowk in Srinagar and dozens of my fellow saints got badly injured. My ashrams were raided, and I went to jail just for the cause of Ram Temple. I remember standing close to Ram Sevaks who were shot dead, but I survived. I think it was Lord Ram’s wish to keep me alive to see all this.
Would you like to play a more constructive role in the future events related to the Ram temple construction?
I have joined politics for the sake of the country and whatever my party and my organisation asks me to do, I will do it with all my energy. I never wanted to join politics. At a very early age, I earned the title of Acharya Mahamandaleshwar (The highest level of spiritual post among Hindus). I remember honourable Rajju Bhaiya ji had told me that the country needed my sacrifice. I joined politics on his request. I didn’t realise I would be treated with such disrespect.
Many people have criticised the decision to lay the foundation stone on August 5 as it coincides with the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. Your views…
You will have to compliment Modi ji for his foresight and wisdom. For us, both events are historic and worth celebrating so instead of having two different dates to hold two different celebrations, he combined the two and gave us a memorable day to celebrate.