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House march to mask red faces
- VHP hawks raise pitch, pillory PM

New Delhi, Feb. 23: Stung by reports suggesting that it had capitulated to the RSS and the BJP’s pressure, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) resorted to a face-saver by announcing that sadhus and sants would “gherao” Parliament tomorrow.

VHP general secretary Praveen Togadia claimed the march would be “peaceful” and called on the saffron brigade not to disrupt law and order by confronting the police.

VHP sources said the strategy was to mount pressure on the government to agree to a law for handing over the “undisputed” land in Ayodhya to the Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas. It would also be a show of strength ahead of the Supreme Court’s March 6 hearing of the Centre’s prayer for vacation of the stay on religious activity in the complex.

The plan’s success in igniting the sadhus could be gauged from the full-throated cries that rose from the Ram Lila Maidan on the second day of the dharma sansad each time the star speakers — Acharya Dharmendra and Togadia — attacked Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Sonia Gandhi and the Muslims.

Ashok Singhal and Mahant Avaidyanath, who held centrestage yesterday and sounded dovish in comparison, took a back seat. The mood yesterday was one of indifference and anger after the meeting unveiled a slew of programmes meant as a build-up to temple construction without specifying the timeframe.

But Dharmendra gave an aggressive spin to the lacklustre resolution, asserting that the March 5-24 build-up would see “Ram bhakts” visit every village in the country with a one-point agenda of identifying the “anti-Hindu desh drohis (enemies of the nation)”. “The result will be there for all to see. Gujarat will be repeated everywhere. The benefit of this will go to those who prove their commitment to the Hindu cause,” he said.

Turning his attention on Sonia Gandhi, he exhorted her to jump onto the saffron bandwagon. “Bhabhiji (Sonia) can also take advantage if she declares herself to be part of the larger Hindu parivar. She should stop doing this nautanki (farce) in Ambaji temple. Bhabhiji, you are our bahurani (daughter-in-law) and if you free yourself from the clutches of the Pope’s conspiracy and accept Ram as your only God, we will have no problem.”

The decision to besiege Parliament was taken last night after the leaders concluded that if the sadhus were not allowed to “vent their pent-up emotions (against the Centre)”, the prospect of galvanising them for future agitation was “bleak”. RSS joint general secretary Madan Das Devi’s presence in today’s sitting confirmed that the move had the Sangh’s blessing.

Dharmendra’s speech unfolded a change of tack. Directly or indirectly, he referred to Vajpayee as a “betrayer”, a glutton and a “rashtra drohi”. “If you want to betray someone, let it be Musharraf. But why our sants' The sants trusted you, but you cheated them. I think all of you know who I am talking about.”

Directly addressing Vajpayee, he said: “Prime Minister, history is written not in ink but by the blood of the kar sevaks who were martyred in Ayodhya. This blood was certainly not shed by a poet who polishes off rasgollas, rasmalais and plates of fish in a restaurant in France.”

History is written in the blood shed by Ashok Singhal, Mahendranath Arora and Sitaram Parihar (two kar sevaks killed by police at Ayodhya in November 1990).”

Mimicking Vajpayee’s war cry of an “aar paar ke ladayee” against Pakistan, Dharmendra said: “You will not be able to account to history when you are asked why you pulled back the troops from the Pakistan border. Bhayankar rashtra droha kiya tumne (you committed treachery of the worst kind against the nation).”

The Jaipur-based cleric, associated with the Ramjanmabhoomi movement since its inception, “clarified” that the VHP had not shifted its focus from Ayodhya to Delhi. “We are not like politicians who keep switching parties. Neither do we change our agendas. Our beliefs and principles are firm.”

On RSS pressure, the Acharya said: “M.S. Golwalkar (a former sarsanghachalak) was our amrit vriksha (tree of nectar). We were inspired by his teachings and traditions. We don’t have fatwas. The BJP could delink itself from the RSS, but not the VHP. Because the thread that binds us is not political, but spiritual.”

Togadia claimed that the VHP’s “sacrifice” was not aimed at grabbing “satta” (power) but to build the Ram temple. “Ram gave up his raj (kingdom) for dharma (moral principles). This is our tradition,” he said.

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