Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader LK Advani may have been the face of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. But the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) – it has been spearheading the struggle to build a Ram temple where the Babri Masjid once stood - has distanced itself from Advani, saying his motives were “selfish”.
At a press conference on Tuesday, VHP leaders from Maharashtra stated that interference from political parties ruined the spirit of the movement. Swami Vishveshwaranand Giri, one of the Hindu religious leaders at the forefront of the movement, said that Advani was never given charge of the movement. “He took charge and exploited it for his own political gains,” Giri alleged.
According to Giri, Advani has slipped from his position in the BJP because of his stance on Jinnah. Without making any effort to hide differences in the saffron family, Giri declared that the VHP would launch a revival of the Ram Janmabhoomi struggle but will not allow any political party to lead it. “Anybody wanting to support us is welcome. But this struggle will be led only by religious leaders who have been working for it since the beginning,” he added.
As a part of their effort to revive the issue, the VHP has invited one of its most vociferous and controversial speakers, Praveen Togadia, to address a gathering in Mumbai on Sunday. The VHP will also hold its third international conference at Allahabad in February. “We are very close to the judgement in the case and we are sure it will be in our favour,” Venkatesh Abdeo, All-India joint secretary of the VHP, said. “The temple will be built at that spot. We will not allow any mosque within the cultural limits of Ayodhya.”
Abdeo said that if the judgment goes against the organisation it would launch another agitation. Saying that the VHP does not consider any political party as a part of its organisation, Giri criticised the BJP and Advani for leaving the task incomplete. “Even when they came into power, the BJP did not take this forward. They probably wanted to show they are secular,” he rued.
Giri, however, praised the Shiv Sena and its current executive president Uddhav Thackeray for adhering to the principles of Hindutva.