Claiming there was nothing religious about Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)'s 84 Kos Yatra, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Monday described it as a "political drama" which his government had not allowed to be staged.
VHP chief Ashok Singhal was taken into custody at Lucknow Airport as the Uttar Pradesh government launched a massive crackdown against those planning to join the ‘Chaurasi Kosi Parikrama’ in Ayodhya. PTI Photo
"VHP's yatra is not a religious one, but a political drama," Akhilesh said on Monday.
"It was planned ahead of the Lok Sabha polls and the state government has not allowed it to be staged," he added.
Justifying the government's decision to ban the yatra, Yadav said, "It (the ban) was necessary as the yatra was not religious but a political one which could vitiate the communal atmosphere in the state.
"We have banned the yatra after reviewing the situation and all the aspects," he said.
As to VHP leader Ashok Singhal having met him and his father, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, before initiating the yatra, Akhilesh said, "Singhal had written a letter seeking an appointment. He met us and sought permission for the yatra.
"But when officials reviewed the request and went through religious traditions, they found there was no (precedent) for a yatra during Chaturmas," he added.
"Such a Parikrama or Yatra was never organised in the past 50 years and, as per Hindu belief, it is performed during 'Chaitra' (April), which has already passed," he clarified.
"In the name of religion, an attempt was made to use saints as a tool, only to fulfil political designs," he said.
Akhilesh said that while the intentions of the Hindutva outfit were political, seers had themselves not approved of the yatra during this period.
"A 'muhurt' is sought for even small religious ceremonies in Hindu mythology. Only they (VHP) would be able to explain how saints fixed this time for the yatra," he said.
Responding to allegations that the yatra was a case of "match-fixing" between Samajwadi Party and BJP, Akhilesh said that anybody making such statements was "non-serious".
"Only a non-serious person can term it match-fixing. SP has always fought and stood against communal forces.
"An issue is being made out of our meeting with Singhal, but in a democracy, anyone is free to meet a Chief Minister. (Such talk) is an indication of a mean mentality," he said.
Akhilesh said that his government was focused on the development of the state and would not tolerate any attempts to undermine it.
"Irrespective of what the Opposition may say, the agenda of my government is development of the state and any attempt to create trouble will be dealt with strictly," he said.