In a clear signal that he is leaning towards reconciliation and not confrontation on the Ayodhya issue, BJP Prime Ministerial candidate LK Advani said he still shared the desire of many for a grand Ram temple at the disputed spot, but wanted it to happen through communal amity.
Launching Sri Ram Mandir — a Hindi version of a Telugu epic film that depicts Hindu-Muslim unity behind the 400-year-old Ram temple in Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh — he said, “A temple for Lord Ram is possible by promoting communal amity and without confrontation.”
Advani’s remark on Wednesday night conformed to a pattern in his speeches lately — advocating a moderate line, signalling to RSS groups like the VHP to eschew the path of confrontation with the minorities and pledge for communal harmony.
He had recently asked BJP leaders to woo Muslims and Christians, so that the NDA would not lose out on votes and could win the 2009 polls on the plank of good governance, development and security.
In his address, Advani referred to saint composer Bhakta Ramadas, who is depicted in the film saying: “This story shows that Ram bhakti (devotion to Ram) need not cause communal tension and can promote communal harmony and peace.”
Recalling his own memories of the Bhadrachalam temple in the course of his Somnath yatra in 1990 for the Ramjanmabhoomi, Advani said, “A film like this one does rekindle our desire for a Ram temple (at Ayodhya) but it also gives us the message that it is indeed possible without any communal tension.” Advani added, “That yatra from Somnath 18 years ago changed my life and also made me aware that I could play a role in the service of this country.”
After a long time, Advani ended his speech with the slogan ‘Jai Shri Ram’.
Senior BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu, who was instrumental in organising the function, described Advani as a “great Ram bhakt” and the appropriate person to launch the audiocassettes of the film.
The film’s producer, Konda Krishnamraju, said, “My joy knew no bounds when Advani accepted the invite to release the first audiocassette of the film.” The film, which was released in Telugu in March 2006, was a big hit. It stars Telugu film legend and Dadasaheb Phalke awardee Akkineni Nageswara Rao, and his son Arjuna in the lead role as Ramadas. It will release in six languages.