New Delhi, Jan. 2: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad branded Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Goa musings a reflection of “pseudo-Hindutva” and said he had no business to reinterpret Hindutva.
In the VHP’s strongest-ever attack on Vajpayee, its vice-president, Acharya Giriraj Kishore, said: “Politicians who are forever making all kinds of compromises to keep their gaddis and stay in power should not attempt to reinterpret Hindutva. We oppose this statement of the Prime Minister. One journalist coined a phrase for the musings, he called them pseudo-Hindutva.”
He further mocked Vajpayee: “They (the musings) were not to anyone’s liking. The Opposition has not accepted them nor has his own people.”
Asked if he thought Vajpayee was a pseudo-Hindutvavaadi, Kishore smiled and said sarcastically: “Ask him if he falls in that category. When he referred to us (in his musings), he did not take our name. We will reciprocate the sentiment and not take names either.”
Kishore objected to Vajpayee’s contention that Hindutva was not rigid or narrow. In a clear reference to that portion in the musings — “I wish to comment on two distinct voices, which have become louder after the Gujarat elections. On the one hand, secularism is being pitted against Hindutva under the belief that the two are antithetical to one another” — Kishore said: “This cycle of action-reaction cannot be termed as fundamentalist or hardline.” The context was the Godhra carnage and the violence that followed, both of which Vajpayee condemned.
The Prime Minister came in for more flak for allegedly going back on a “promise” made to the VHP on the Ram temple. “After 1992, we made our first real effort to get the temple constructed when he became the Prime Minister. He stated in Parliament and Lucknow that the government would find a solution before March 12. In a separate meeting, he repeated the promise to Ashok Singhal and mahant Ramchandra Paramhans and told them to go ahead and make his decision public. Later he told a delegation of sants, he had made no such promise,” charged Kishore.
The VHP did not target the Prime Minister alone. Its disenchantment with deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, a long-time favourite, came through loud and clear. “We no longer have faith in any politician and for us, Vajpayee and Advani are the same,” said Kishore. Later, VHP sources said if Advani was to be worthy of the honorific “Sardar Patel II”, he should try and contain terrorism.
In a veiled warning to the Centre, he said it should hand over the land at the disputed site in Ayodhya which was acquired by the Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas before February 21, when the marg darshak mandal (the VHP’s apex steering committee) and the dharam sansad (religious parliament) planned to meet for four days in Delhi to firm up the next round of agitation on the temple-mosque front.
“If Parliament could enact a special law in the Shah Bano case to circumvent a Supreme Court ruling, why can’t it do likewise to hand over the land to us'” the VHP leader said when asked how the Centre could go against the Supreme Court’s order. He stated that if the government did nothing, the VHP’s sants would take to the streets, court arrest and “face bullets”, if necessary.
Vajpayee declined to react, saying it was “too late in the day to talk of” the musings.
The VHP’s strategy to bring the temple on the political centrestage seemed two-pronged: while sources said one objective was to raise the pitch of the campaign against Vajpayee and Advani and try and extract its part of the “bargain” from the government, there was an admission that if the campaign benefited the BJP electorally, the VHP would “have no problem”.
The timing seems too pat to be a coincidence: while the dharam sansad will take place close to the Himachal elections, the next leg of the campaign was expected to gain momentum in September-October, closer to the elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Chhattisgarh — states in which Hindutva had clicked in the past and where the BJP has a huge stake.
A VHP source said: “Gujarat proved how useful we are to the BJP. We helped them because we were happy with Narendra Modi. As regards the other states and the Lok Sabha, we will closely monitor the government’s working and watch what steps it takes to help our cause. We will also see which personality is projected in the states going to polls and if he or she is committed to our ideology or not. Only then we will decide whether the BJP deserves our support or not.”
Kishore also announced the VHP had set up a three-member committee under the chairmanship of S.C. Dixit, a former director-general of Uttar Pradesh police and a former Lok Sabha MP from Varanasi, to implement the decision taken in the February dharam sansad.