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BJP governments, Vishva Hindu Parishad find common ground

VHP has been closely involved with the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas since inception and Yogi Adityanath’s guru Mahant Avaidyanath and Ashok Singhal were part of the Nyas.
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cordial relationship with the Vishva Hindu Parishad may help the BJP retain smooth ties with the outfit, unlike the tremendous friction the two Sangh outfits had when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the PM and a similar demand for expediting the building of a Ram temple in Ayodhya was made. At that time, returning the 42 acres the Centre had acquired around the disputed site in Ayodhya was one of the few things on which the BJP government at the Centre and the VHP concurred.

While VHP pilloried Vajpayee ‘for not doing enough’ as PM to build the temple, Modi has maintained a good equation with the VHP, which had backed him for PM long before he was chosen. Ashok Singhal, who held the VHP reins for more than two decades, was instrumental in a congregation of Hindu saints at the Maha Kumbh Dharma Sansad in Allahabad to announce support for Modi as the PM, in 2013.

Singhal was VHP general secretary in 1992 and Vishnu Hari Dalmia president when the Babri Masjid was demolished. He had warm ties with BJP leaders Vajpayee and Advani too but it turned frosty after the BJP assumed power at the Centre in 1998. Events now have a resemblance with what happened in February 2003, during Vajpayee’s tenure. The Centre had then asked the Supreme Court for permission to return the 67 acres, similarly, but the SC ordered status quo till the courts settled the title dispute.

VHP joint general secretary Surendra Jain told ET that the Vajpayee government’s role in 2003 was “positive” while welcoming the initiative of the Modi government. “We appeal to the court to give a verdict as soon as possible. We expect a verdict in favour of returning the land to the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas,” Jain said. The VHP Dharma Sansad that will begin on Thursday at Prayagraj will re-emphasise the need to build the temple.

VHP has been closely involved with the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas since inception and UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s guru Mahant Avaidyanath and Singhal were part of the Nyas. We cooperate in their implementation of whatever programmes the trust, under the leadership of Nrityanand Maharaj, plans,” Jain said. VHP has kept the Ram temple issue alive during Modi’s tenure but relations have never been acrimonious.

“The land was acquired in 1993 and it has been 25 years now. It should be returned to those it belongs to. We welcome the government move,” Rajendra Pankaj told ET. He dismissed the differences with Nirmohi Akhara over the government petition. “The Akhara is responsible for management of the mandir. Its leaders have cleared the air,” he said.

The government petition, meanwhile, will send a message to the electorate that the BJP is serious about the Ram temple.
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