The growing anger of the BJP and RSS over the J&K government’s decision to revoke land allotted to the Amarnath shrine board came to the fore at a function in Bhopal to launch the Hindi version of LK Advani's memoir as well as his branding as prime minister candidate.
Advani did not speak a word other than to tell the media earlier that it was the third instance of the UPA and Congress bowing to anti-national forces, after its dilly-dallying on Ram Setu and the hanging of Parliament attack accused Mohammed Afzal. His worry was that BJP leaders were heaping too much praise on his abilities in their effort to brand him as PM material when he would prefer greater caution against sycophancy. “Things can go awry if we develop a false impression of overselves,” he said.
But other leaders, including Sushma Swaraj and RSS deputy general secretary Suresh Soni, made it clear the BJP and RSS saw an emotive issue that would be difficult for the UPA to handle in an election year. They called for a sustained campaign to expose the “pseudo-secularists” who are opposed to “basic facilities” for Hindu pilgrims. BJP president Rajnath Singh called a meeting of core group of leaders to outline a nationwide protest.
Backing the BJP leaders on the issue were Art of Living guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and yoga exponent Baba Ramdev, who came to attend the book release function.
Swaraj minced no words in saying the BJP saw the issue as reluctance to create facilities for Hindu pilgrims when no one has raised a word of protest against the government spending crores on the Haj pilgrimage. (Rajnath had raised this point in his letter to the PM three days ago, cautioning against the cancellation of allotment of land.)
Soni said issues like the Amarnath controversy showed that even a person like “Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who symbolises the country’s true secular spirit as a minority leader in the top post, did not speak a word against what has happened”.
Dubbing the PDP “deshdrohis”, Ramdev said a deliberate attempt had been made to give a communal colour to the yatra. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said politics should not be allowed to interfere in a religious yatra.