The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sangh on temple frontfoot

Lucknow, Sept. 18: A day after Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayavati bailed out BJP bigwigs in the Babri demolition case, the Hindutva brigade looks set to pursue the temple agenda aggressively.

In a clear indication of this, BJP boss Venkaiah Naidu today said at a rally in Varanasi his party had never given up the agenda. He is expected to carry on the campaign at a rally in Kanpur tomorrow.

Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, one of the leaders let off the hook by the notification decision, is slated to kick off the BJP’s “Chalo gaon ki aur” campaign from Chitrakoot district in Uttar Pradesh next Wednesday. He will be Mayavati’s guest at a Lucknow rally on September 28, at which he will share the dais with BSP chief Kanshi Ram.

Naidu today said: “As party president, I can claim that the Ram temple is still on the agenda of the BJP and we have not deviated from that.”

State BJP chief Vinay Katiyar underlined the message. “I started my yatra from Varanasi for the liberation of the Ram temple in Ayodhya and again I am back at the same place,” he told the same gathering.

In an orchestrated move, the VHP decided to add Godhra to its temple card and hold up Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as a saviour of the Hindus.

“ The incident in Gujarat (the mayhem following Godhra) has given a lesson forever to Islamic terrorism and we will not allow the jihadi movements to raise their head anywhere,” VHP working president Ashok Singhal told the media here.

The VHP announced plans to recruit 8,000 full-time volunteers, besides launching 15,000 yatras across the country to create “religious awareness”. VHP spokesperson Veereshwar Dwivedi said: “Full-time ‘Ram sadhaks’ would be appointed in the country’s 8,000 blocks for one year to create nationwide religious awareness. Some are already undergoing training at Ayodhya.”

The VHP has called a meeting of its steering committee here on September 28 to rope in saints on issues affecting the Hindus, including the Ram temple. The saints will hold a public meeting the next day under the banner of Dharam Sthan Mukti Samiti, ostensibly for “liberation” of three shrines at Varanasi, Mathura and Kashi.

The volunteers would operate from their homes at their own expense, Dwivedi said. The VHP would also organise Dharma Jagran Yatras (religious awareness campaigns) at 15,000 places across the country for a month beginning on November 15 to reach one lakh villages, he added.

“The saints have always been of the opinion that building of Ram temple in Ayodhya was the issue of religious devotion and not the subject for the court to decide where Ram was born. The Parliament will have to take the decision on the issue finally because several rounds of negotiation have failed to reach a consensus,” Singhal said.

He also had a word of praise for Mayavati. He said she had realised that it was “pseudo-secular parties like the Congress and the Samajwadi Party which had been politicising the Ayodhya dispute to serve their partisan interests”.

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