Riding piggy back on VHP-RSS-sponsored temple agenda BJP Bites The Dust
In the absence of mass support the BJP bid to ride piggy back on RSS-VHP-sponsored 84 Kosi yatra to promote Ram Temple construction in Ayodhya appears to have fallen flat. While the High Court upholding the ban on the yatra imposed by the state government on August 19, gave both legal and adminstrative teeth to the state government, it was basically the failure of the saffron brigade to mobilise the masses in the name of Ram that was actually responsible for the entire event turning into a damn squib.
Battlelines had been drawn between the state authorities and the organisers ahead of the 20-day yatra which was to start from August 25. The yatra covering approximately 252 km was to pass through the route of six highly sensitive districts in the state—Faizabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Gonda, Basti, Bara Banki and Bahraich.
The yatra was doomed right from day one. While politicians from the opposite camp had called it a ploy to garner votes, even the religious seers from Ayodhya had confirmed that the yatra had no religious sanctity as the traditional 84 Kosi yatra had already been successfully completed in April.
The VHP leaders Ashok Singhal, Ram Vilas Vedanti and Pravin Togadia had however declared that they would go ahead with the yatra, come what may. The BJP also denied that it was an attempt by the saffron outfits to give the BJP a chance to drum up support for the construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya prior to the 2014 general elections. There were open allegations that the entire episode was planned by RSS to support BJP interests.
“By arousing religious sentiments and creating a communal divide the BJP wanted to create tension and disharmony. I am glad that the enlightened masses ensured that this situation did not arise,” said Dr Rita Bahuguna, senior Congress leader and former UP state Congress chief.
It was a litmus test for the state government and it had made all preprations to nip this yatra in the bud. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC were clamped and high alert was sounded in the state. Arrests orders were issued against 70 Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders, additional police force was deployed in all districts. Security forces conducted flag marches in Ayodhya.
All this paid off. The VHP leaders were rounded up on August 25, when they attempted to start the yatra and within few hours the entire thing fizzled out. The district adminstartuion and the people heaved a sigh of relief.
“The saffron brigade has always used religion to find a foothold in the political arena and this yatra was another such attempt to give a totally political agenda a religious colour. I am happy that the people saw through the game plan and rejected it and did not become a part of it,” leading Shia cleric and Imam-e-Jumma, Lucknow Maulana Syed Kalbe Jawad told Uday India. “The failure of the 84 kosi yatra has exposed the evil designs of the BJP, which had orchestrated the entire thing though the official organizers RSS-VHP,” he added. He was of the opinion that the Samajwadi Party has gained maximum political milegae from the yatra in the state and not the BJP.
Maulana Yasoob Abbas, spokesperson, Shia Muslim Personal Law Board , while expressing happiness and relief that all has till now gone peacefully suggested that the so-called Hindu supporters must utilise their time more fruitfully. “Leave Ayodhya alone, go to Badrinath, Kedarnath, build whatever has been destroyed, and help support the suffering humanity if you really want to do something in the name of religion,” said Abbas. He said further that this time the common man has given a big slap to these goons in religious garb whose real aim is to shred the social fabric of the state but its seems they are now knocking on wrong doors.
“The intellegent and awakened masses, be they from any community, have already shown the door to these so-called messiahs of the Hindus and they can no longer sell a false dream of building a Ram Temple to them,” said the cleric.
Urging even the Muslims not to anything that may disturb the peace and harmony of the state Abbas said that this is the time to work towards development and growth and not time to take the state and nation backward through these highly politicised yatras. Educationist Prof Salaam Siddiqui was very vocal about roots of secularism not weakening in society.
“VHP EVEN CHEATED RAM; THIS WAS NOT A YATRA BUT A FARCE”
According to Dr Ramesh Dixit failure or success is not the right word to use for the 84 Kosi yatra as the entire thing was a big farce and aimed at kicking up religious fervour before the 2014 general elections but the people nipped it in the bud.
“But sans mass support it was bound to flop right from the word go. And flop it did.” Dr Dixit, national working committee member, Nationalist Congress Party, said.
Dr Dixit said that the RSS-VHP orchestraed yatra was totally against the Hindu traditions and norms. “Even a common Hindu knows that in these four months of monsoon no auspicious event is undertaken. The traditional 84 Kosi yatra was undertaken with all religious sentiments in April and if another one was being organised it was obvious that there was only political colour to it.”
Dr Dixit also objected to the unruly elements supporting the yatra masqueriding as Ram bhakts. “It is wrong to call them Ram bhakts at the best they can be called VHP, RSS, or BJP workers,” he said.
All praise for the government for its apt handling of the event, he said and added that if it had succumbed and allowed the yatra the gruesome days of 1992 would have returned. Siddiqui said that it is our misfortune that secularism is not being given the top priority it deserves in a democracy like India and that is why so much of communal divide is taking place. Calling the organisers of the yatra ‘perpetertors of hatred and communal divide’, Siddiqui said that the government decisions must be based on the ‘good for the masses,” only then will it be respected by the people.
Dr Naseem Subhi, an educationist and leading Shia women majlis orator, lauded the crucial role played by SP Minister Mohammed Azam Khan who reacted very strongly to SP supremo Mulayam Singh’s meeting with the VHP team led by Ashok Singhal and said that at no cost should the government allow the yatra be taken out.
“Azam Khan Saab acted at the right time and in right degree. I shudder to think what would have happened had he not done so and the yatra had been allowed. Can we forget the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition?, asked Dr Subhi, But the BJP feels Mulayam tried to honour minority sentiments at the cost of majority and for this he will have to pay in the elections.
“While we fail to understand why the VHP had to seek permission from the government for taking out a religious yatra. We also fail to understand why the government had to buckle down under the threats of SP minister Azam Khan not to allow the yatra,” BJP state president Dr Laxikant Bajpai said. Lambasting the government of being totally minority centric and charging it with totally ignoring the basic rights of the majority, Bajpai alleged that it was Azam Khan who had given a political colour to a religious issue.
Bajpai said while the BJP had nothing to do with the chalking out of the yatra plan, his party would be in the forefront if there was any repression of the sadhus. He expressed confidence that the BJP will gain its vote on the lack of performance of the Congress and the Samjawadi Party and not on the temple issue. “Ram is a subject of Hindu sentiments not of politics,” said Bajpai to the question that the yatra was an attempt to politicise the temple issue and generate religious sentiments among the Hindu voters for the coming 2014 elections.
By Kulsum Mustafa from Lucknow