The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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VHP wields poll stick on BJP

New Delhi, Aug. 8: In a setback to the BJP, the VHP has deci- ded not to hold any Ram temple agitation in the five states fac- ing Assembly elections in November.

Cadre belonging to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal are thus unlikely to campaign for the BJP in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and Mizoram.

The VHP is expected to announce its next move on the Ram temple issue on September 13 after a meeting of its top brass in Delhi.

But sources said earlier this week that VHP leaders, including Ashok Singhal, Acharya Giriraj Kishore and Praveen Togadia, had met representatives from the election-bound states and decided that the agitation should not cover these regions.

“We have decided to liberate these states from the VHP’s agitation,” said parishad spokesman Veereshwar Dwivedi.

The VHP is likely to soon step up its demand for a central legislation to facilitate the handing over of the undisputed portion of the Ayodhya land to the Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas for constructing the temple.

But the BJP has repeatedly said it does not have the parliamentary majority to pass such a law and that a solution can be reached only through negotiations or a court verdict.

During a meeting on Tuesday, VHP leaders were reportedly critical of the BJP’s “apathy” towards their demand for a central law and dubbed the Ayodhya resolution adopted by the BJP at its Raipur national executive as “mere lip service”.

VHP vice-president Acharya Giriraj Kishore was today quoted as saying the parishad had decided to keep away from the poll-bound states for fear of sending a “wrong signal that it becomes active only during elections”.

BJP sources sought to dismiss the VHP move as “mere posturing” but admitted that if it kept away, the parishad could impact their (the BJP’s) election prospects in “varying degrees”.

The VHP has a network in Delhi and the three heartland states, but of late, its attempts to communalise the atmosphere, be it by distributing trishuls in Rajasthan or reconverting Christians in Chhattisgarh, have come a cropper.

BJP sources said the VHP would be “useful” if the party’s campaign focusing on development and governance failed. The BJP could then turn to its militant sibling to create pre-election hype on the temple and other religious matters.

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