The Sangh Parivar, with the BJP in tow, issued an ultimatum to the UPA Government on the Ram Setu issue threatening to launch a violent agitation on January 16 if the Centre decided to tamper with the bridge-formation off Rameshwaram to create a shipping channel. The Centre is scheduled to communicate its decision on the matter to Supreme Court on that day.
At a mega rally in Rohini, attended by top BJP leaders, VHP’s Pravin Togadia threatened: “Be ready. The battle will be fought in six lakh villages across the country… If, in its affidavit submitted to the court on January 16, the government refuses to change its plan, hum eent se eent baja dengey (we will destroy, brick by brick) …Remember we are the people who had reduced Babar’s structure to rubble in a matter of four hours.”
The rally on Sunday led to traffic jams for hours in different parts of the city with thousands of vehicles carrying Sangh and BJP workers from neighbouring states entering and exiting the Capital.
Significantly, BJP prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani, who had led the Ayodhya movement, was conspicuous by his absence despite having been invited by the VHP. The party leadership, which had been kept away from the Ram Setu movement so far, was invited in full strength to the gathering by the VHP bosses.
But they were neither allowed to sit on the main dais with RSS chief K.S.Sudarshan , VHP supremo Ashok Singhal and top Hindu religious heads nor permitted to address the meeting.
Advani , who was earlier expected to attend the rally after returning from Himachal Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal's oath-taking ceremony in Shimla, did not turn up eventually as he is believed to be offended at such a courtesy not being extended to a leader of his stature.
This has highlighted once again the animosity that continues to exist between him and the VHP leaders despite the RSS-led saffron family's recent resolve to downplay its internal differences with the BJP and project a united front at a time when they are faced with Assembly polls in several crucial states and the big electoral battle for the Centre in the near future.
Otherwise, led by BJP president Rajnath Singh, many senior leaders of the party including Arun Jaitley , Sushma Swaraj and Murli Manohar Joshi were present at the mega-rally aimed at sending a message to all political parties that they could not afford to ignore the sentiments of the Hindu community.Also present were chief ministers of four BJP-ruled states - MP, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand - three of which will go to polls next year.
Messages from ailing BJP patriarch Atal Bihari Vajpayee, AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa ( a prospective ally) and Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal supporting the Ramsetu movement were read out at the meet.
The meeting passed a resolution vowing to prevent the Centre from inflicting damage upon the revered Ramsetu .It also raised the demands that the Ramsetu be declared a protected historical heritage site and Rameshwaram be conferred the status of a holy pilgrimage town.