Mohan Bhagwat: Why look for a Shivalinga in every mosque?
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in a speech in Nagpur on Thursday firmly supported the claim of Hindus over the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi but questioned the need to look for a “Shivalinga” in every mosque, which is being seen as a reflection of the Sangh parivar’s tendency to talk and act in different ways.
Bhagwat, considered the head of the wider Sangh parivar that includes the BJP, said the RSS was not in favour of launching any other “andolan (movement)” for a temple after the Ram Janmbhoomi but did not decry the Gyanvapi mosque dispute being resurrected by Hindutva elements.
The RSS boss sought to strongly support the claim of Hindus over the Gyanvapi mosque not only on grounds of “faith” but also “historical facts” and seemed to justify the issue being dragged into court, saying the court’s decision should be accepted by all.
The BJP and RSS leaders have lauded Bhagwat for speaking like a statesman but they feel the twin issues will continue to simmer in courts and influence the political discourse.
“The RSS chief rightly said that one should not look for Shivalinga in every mosque and escalate fights. But can anyone put a lid on Hindu sentiments if a Shivalinga is found in the Gyanvapi mosque in a court-ordered survey?” a BJP leader said.
“The Sarsanghchalak spoke against raking disputes in all mosques but offered moral support to the demand of Hindus over Gyanvapi mosque and Idgah Mosque in Mathura,” another BJP leader said.
The RSS chief’s lengthy and cleverly juxtaposed speech calling for a halt on digging up the past and justifying the claim of Hindus over Gyanvapi, all in the same breath, has led many to doubt his intention.
“His statement saying why look for a shivling in every mosque, and in the same breath saying that the Hindus have a special devotion in the Gyanvapi masjid is a classic case of doublespeak, eye wash and for public consumption,” social activist and former MP Prakash Ambedkar said in a tweet. He questioned why Bhagwat didn’t condemn the acts of filing petitions in court over Kashi and Mathura by people linked to RSS-affiliated outfits.
Biggest liar - Mohan Bhagwat. His statement saying why look for shivling in every Mosque, and in the same breath saying that the Hindus have special devotion in the #Gyanvapi masjid, is a classic case of double speak, eye wash and for public consumption.— Prakash Ambedkar (@Prksh_Ambedkar) June 3, 2022
Speaking at a congregation of newly trained RSS cadres in Nagpur, the headquarters of the Sangh, Bhagwat spoke at length on the Gyanvapi dispute and in the process recalled the Muslim invaders and how they destroyed temples. He also highlighted that the ancestors of Muslims were Hindus.
“Gyanvapi has a history that we cannot change now. We did not create that history... It happened then. Islam came here with invaders. In these attacks, temples were destroyed to subdue the morale of those seeking freedom for this country. There are thousands of such temples,” Bhagwat said, addressing a group of newly trained RSS cadres.
He highlighted the “special significance” of Kashi and Mathura, the twin issues currently being dealt in local courts. “Issues of temples, which hold special significance in the heart of Hindus, are now being raised,” he added.
After this, Bhagwat sought to speak like a statesman, stressing why “raise a new issue every day” and “escalate a fight” by looking for a Shivalinga in every mosque before referring to the claim of Hindus over Gyanvapi as justified.
“One should not raise a new issue every day. Why escalate fights? On Gyanvapi our faith has been there for generations,” he said, stressing that “what we are doing is fine”. In the same vein he added: “But why look for a Shivalinga in every mosque?”, reflecting the dichotomy of his intentions.
On how the Gyanvapi dispute can be resolved, he said: “People need to sit together and reach a consensus on a way out. But this doesn’t happen every time. If they go to court, whatever verdict the court gives should be acceptable by all.”
BJP chief J.P. Nadda had taken a similar line last week, saying, “issues like Gyanvapi will be resolved by the court and the constitution”.
Party insiders said maintaining a “safe distance” from the Kashi and Mathura issues had been a deliberate decision. “The BJP or RSS will not undertake any movement. But how can we stop Hindus in their private capacity from approaching the courts based on issues of faith and historical facts?” a BJP leader asked, pointing out that desecration of temples in Kashi and Mathura by Muslim invaders has already gripped the minds of the Hindus and there was no need to launch a movement.
“The Ram temple issue was resolved by the court. Similarly, we feel that the Kashi and Mathura issues too should be settled by the court,” a BJP leader said.
Sections in the BJP said that after eight years in power, the current leadership was confident of having their way, particularly after the Supreme Court ruling in favour of a Ram temple in Ayodhya.
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi was addressing an event in Lucknow in the morning, the RSS-linked Kashi Dharm Parishad held a meeting in Varanasi from where sadhus urged the Gyanvapi mosque management not to wait for a court verdict and hand the premises over to Hindus.
Sangh parivar supporters have filed several court cases demanding handover of the site where the Gyanvapi stands, alleging the mosque was built after demolishing a part of the original Kashi Vishwanath Temple in the 17th century.