With the Ram Mandir movement having lost its steam, the Sangh Parivar has now discovered fresh potential in the Ram Setu as a symbol of faith around which to rally the Hindu masses.
The BJP-Sangh Parivar conflict with the UPA Government on the issue is being sought to be projected as a battle between ‘Om and Rome’ – a slogan that seems to have caught the popular fancy.
Accusing the Congress-led government of a conspiracy to undermine Hindu culture and heritage, prominent sants and VHP leaders on Sunday convened a Dharm Sansad (conclave) of top Hindu religious heads in the Capital on July 22 to take a do-or-die decision on the issue if their warning to leave the Ram Setu untouched is not heeded by then.
“The time has come for Hindus to make a big sacrifice. We are ready for any drastic action. If the need arises, even shakti pradarshan (show of strength) will be resorted to,” thundered VHP chief Ashok Singhal at a massive rally in Old Delhi’s Ram Leela ground.
The warning was echoed by several other top leaders of various Hindu sects, including Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, the president of Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Nyas (temple trust) of Ayodhya.
Jagadguru Shankaracharya Swami Vasudevanand of Jyotishpeeth and Swami Vishvesh Tirth of Pejawar Mutt, Udupi, were among the other prominent participants at the meet besides VHP secretary general Pravin Togadia.
There was fiery rhetoric aplenty, but it was Janata Party chief Subramaniam Swamy who played the demagogue and stole the show with his punch line that captured the fancy of the sants as well as the assembled crowds.
“Sangharsh ke liye tayyar rahiye.Yeh sangharsh hoga Om aur Rome ke beech mein, (Be ready for the struggle.This battle will be between Om and Rome),” said Swamy in a veiled reference to Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
The leaders asserted that the mythological bridge Ram Setu, said to have been built by Lord Ram while invading Sri Lanka, was an important symbol of Hindu faith and must not be destroyed for the purpose of providing a clear channel for ships to pass through.
Sensing the potential of Ram Setu as a Hindutva issue at a time when several state elections are on the horizon, the BJP too has taken it up in a big way in Parliament and outside. It will work in close coordination with the Sangh Parivar which plans to launch a countrywide campaign to highlight the issue.