The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Worry: Parivar, not temple

New Delhi, July 4: The BJP is more or less convinced the promise of a Ram temple will not bring in a single extra vote in the Lok Sabha elections and is not unduly perturbed by VHP leader Ashok Singhal’s demand for the Prime Minister’s resignation.

What bothers the party is the stand the RSS will take on Ayodhya in its Kanyakumari meeting, and whether Sangh cadre will cooperate with it during the ensuing polls, sources said.

“The Ram temple issue cannot help us win another election. If the opposite was the case, we ourselves would have dissolved the House and sought a fresh mandate,” a source said, and recalled how after the 1992 Babri demolition, the BJP lost power in the four states it ruled.

Sources said a barometer of how Ayodhya was no longer a hit with Hindus was the lack of demand for Hindutva crowd-pullers like Sadhvi Rithambara, Acharya Dharmendra and Singhal himself.

“The ground was laid in 1989 when the main plank was corruption (Bofors) but the VHP’s movement and the shilanyas had helped us garner support in Maharashtra and Gujarat. In the 1991 election we reaped the harvest,” a source said.

The BJP’s worries are on other counts:

§The VHP re-opening the leadership chapter by trashing A.B. Vajpayee and giving an impression of being “less harsh” on L.K. Advani.

Singhal’s allegation of Vajpayee dissociating himself from Ayodhya was interpreted in this context. Insiders recalled how he had distanced himself from Advani’s rath yatra and participated in just one place. The original proposal was the yatra would be flagged off from four places by Advani, Vajpayee, Vijayaraje Scindia and Sikandar Bakht. But Vajpayee, Bakht and Raje backed off.

Apparently, Vajpayee told his confidants then that the issue could “boomerang” if Pakistan, for instance, got tough with Hindu minorities in retaliation. Therefore, he was not in favour of championing it.

If the VHP seemed upset, sources felt it was because of its perception that Vajpayee would willy-nilly get the credit if the Kanchi seer’s initiative took off.

§Cadre mobilisation: Although the BJP’s reading was the parivar’s foot soldiers were drawn mainly from the RSS, the BMS and the ABVP, sources admitted to the VHP’s influence in poll-bound Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

§Inability of the RSS to rein in the VHP: Sources said the main reason was sarsanghachalak K.S. Sudarshan was younger than Singhal and VHP veteran Acharya Giriraj Kishore, which “made it difficult for him to assert his authority beyond a point”.

§Upsetting the Hindutva support base: “This is the single most important reason why the RSS cannot jettison either the VHP or the Kashi and Mathura agenda,” a source said.

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