The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Centre gags VHP with parivar help

New Delhi, Feb. 22: The first day of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s dharma sansad ended tamely without a word on the specifics of Ram temple construction or acquisition of the “undisputed” land in Ayodhya. The VHP was mum on whether it would serve an ultimatum on the Centre on the land transfer as it had done at exactly the same time last year.

The combined pressure of the RSS and the BJP appeared to have helped rein in the hot-headed elements. The RSS-BJP iterated that the Centre was “serious” about the legal course and, if that did not work, a contingency plan was being readied. Hence, it was “pointless” to jeopardise court hearings.

The Supreme Court’s constitution of a five-judge bench to hear the Centre’s petition on the “undisputed” land was cited as a “positive” development to the VHP. The Prime Minister’s pro-Hindutva iterations, culminating in a statement on the temple at a Himachal rally, were held up as “proof” that “once a swayamsevak, always a swayamsevak”.

All the sansad did was unveil plans for a satyagraha in the capital on March 27. A resolution said the satyagraha would be preceded by a jan jagran programme between March 5 and 24 with the slogan “Delhi chalo”.

Even the aggressive VHP general secretary, Praveen Togadia, sounded embarrassed when newsmen said his plan to besiege Parliament during the jan jagran was meaningless because it would be in recess for Holi.

That the gathering of sadhus and sants — mainly from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan — felt let down became apparent when a sadhu broke into Togadia’s news briefing at Ram Leela Maidan and demanded what the VHP meant by satyagraha.

“I want an answer. Each time you people force us to attend your sansads and then compromise with the government. What are you going to do next'” the sadhu shouted.

Togadia later played to the gallery: “What we announced today is one phase of our programme. The next instalment will come tomorrow. One date will definitely be announced.”

But he quickly clarified it would not be to start temple construction. “That will begin just like this, any day, any time,” he said, clicking his fingers. “A formal announcement would force the government to enforce a lot of restrictions on us and things will then be back to square one.”

But he hinted that the sansad might decide tonight to gherao Parliament on February 24 to pile pressure for a central law to handle the handover of the “undisputed” land to the Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas.

Although the temple resolution was watered down, the speeches were fiery and sought to give the impression that the VHP was at war with the Centre. Swami Parmanand of the Ramjanmabhoomi Nirman Samiti introduced an amendment accusing politicians of “undermining” the VHP’s andolan “each time it was moving to a logical conclusion”. But the “amendment” was irrelevant, as the resolution had been passed by then.

Swami Rambhadracharya of Chitrakoot warned the BJP not to “betray” Ram. “Those who do not do justice to Ayodhya will be punished,” he said.

Justice means only one thing, allowing the temple to be built…. The temple will be built on December 6, 2004.”

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