Ayodhya case verdict: Sangh skirts query on Kashi & Mathura
The BJP, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad could barely hold back their delight over the Supreme Court’s verdict on Saturday but took care not to erupt while avoiding a direct reply on whether their focus now would be on similar Ayodhya-like demands in Kashi and Mathura.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, who addressed the media hours after the top court had cleared the decks for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya where the Babri mosque once stood, beamed with joy though he tried not to show it.
“The Supreme Court verdict is in line with sentiments of the whole nation,” Bhagwat said, reading from a prepared statement.
The media address had been organised at Keshav Kunj, the Sangh’s Delhi headquarters where the old structure is gone and a grand high-rise is coming up.
Bhagwat, who spoke in the presence of all senior leaders of the RSS, the ruling BJP’s ideological mentor, called for putting past controversies behind to “discharge our duty towards building a grand temple at Ramjanmabhoomi”.
Asked if the Sangh would now focus on Kashi and Mathura, Bhagwat sidestepped the query. “Sangh kisi andolan ko nahi karta, Sangh manushya nirman ka kaam karta hai (The Sangh doesn’t undertake any agitation, the Sangh is engaged in human character building),” he replied.
The Sangh parivar claims that Mughal emperor Aurangzeb destroyed the original Kashi Vishwanath Temple and built the Gyanvapi mosque over the well where a Shiva idol had been kept. It wants the temple restored.
The Shahi Idgah mosque in Mathura stands next to a temple at a site considered the birthplace of Lord Krishna.
Bhagwat said it was an “exception” that the RSS got involved in the Ramjanmabhoomi agitation, emphasised it was because of a historical context but didn’t elaborate.
“Hum manusya nirman ka kaam karte hai aur karte rahenge (We are into human character building and will continue to do that),” he added.
The RSS chief is considered the guardian of all Sangh parivar constituents but Bhagwat didn’t categorically say that the other outfits — emboldened after Saturday’s verdict — wouldn’t also pursue the twin issues of Kashi and Mathura that have been on their agenda for long.
One slogan that had been raised after the Babri mosque’s demolition in 1992 was: “Abhi to ye jhaanki hai, Kashi Mathura baki hai (This is only the trailer, Kashi and Mathura remain).”
Vishwa Hindu Parishad working president Alok Kumar too sought to sidestep questions on the twin issues. “Our entire focus now is on the construction of a grand Ram temple. We are not looking at any other issue,” Kumar said, asked if the focus would now shift to Kashi and Mathura. “We don’t have time to raise other issues now.”
The VHP had spearheaded the Ramjanmabhoomi agitation since the mid-sixties, with the BJP joining the movement much later.
Bhagwat and Kumar both remembered the “martyrs”, referring to those killed during the agitation aimed at bringing the Babri mosque down, although the top court in its verdict had termed the demolition an “egregious violation of the rule of law”.
Senior BJP leaders L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti are among those accused in the demolition case.
“In this long-drawn effort, we remember all those supporters who had rendered their services in diverse ways and all martyrs with deep sense of gratitude,” Bhagwat said.
Kumar said: “Today is also a day of expressing gratitude and thanksgiving. The first gratitude goes to all those known and unknown Hindus who participated in this centuries-old struggle, suffered immensely and many made supreme sacrifices.”
Off the record, Sangh parivar leaders said they didn’t want to talk about Kashi and Mathura now, as it was not an appropriate time. “Rejoice, eat sweets and digest this moment of victory. Why talk about Kashi and Mathura now?” an RSS leader said.
The RSS and the VHP both refrained from openly celebrating the judgment. They distributed sweets among themselves and were heard greeting each other with the words “Jai Shri Ram” but no one raised slogans or made public displays of victory.
Asked how they planned to collect money for the construction of the temple, the Sangh leaders hinted at a campaign to get contribution from people across the country, hoping it would help them politically too.
“Even if government money is used for the construction of the temple, there is no harm,” the RSS leader said. “Government money is, after all, people’s money only.”
The leaders also discussed the Somnath temple in Gujarat as a likely model.