Differences crop up between BJP, RSS over Ram temple
A day after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost power in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, where its writ ran unchallenged for three terms, and in Rajasthan, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, its ideological mentor, is believed to have told the party that the electoral setback is a message from voters disappointed with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) for not building a Ram temple in Ayodhya.
According to people aware of the developments, while the party is of the view that the Supreme Court should be allowed to take a call on the issue, the RSS wants the government to pass a law facilitating the construction of a temple, and believes voters are punishing the BJP for not doing so.
“While there is consensus on the issue of constructing a Ram Temple between the party and the Sangh, there is some disagreement on the method for doing so.
There are many voices within the party who believe that the Sangh should not insist on the government presenting a bill in Parliament,” said one RSS functionary aware of the developments. According to this functionary, days before the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s ‘Dharam Sansad’, held in the Capital on December 9, the RSS and the BJP leadership discussed the pros and cons of large-scale mobilisation for pushing the Union government to bring a law for the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
The opinion among most people in the BJP, according to this person, was that development should be the party’s sole campaign message.
Some of the party’s leaders conceded that a a private member’s bill was the most that the party could do.
The RSS doesn’t seem to have bought this argument and at the Dharam Sansad, the organisation’s general secretary Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi declared that a law was the only option.
A second RSS functionary said the Sangh conveyed to the government that its intention was not to create a conflict or to polarise voters, but to seek the fulfillment of a promise made by the party before it goes into the next Lok Sabha elections.
VHP’s working president Alok Kumar downplayed the conflict and said: “We have not received any request from anyone to not raise the [temple] issue. We are only insisting on fulfilment of assurances made in the BJP manifesto.”
A BJP leader who spoke to HT on condition of anonymity said the upset the party faced in the recent round of elections was an outcome of unresolved “local issues”.
“There has been no impact of the Ram temple movement on the ground,” the BJP leader said, but added that the party leadership “would rather leave the issue to the apex court to resolve.”
The RSS is unlikely to change its position, said political analyst Shirish Kashikar. “From the response that the Dharma Sansads are getting from people, it is evident that the RSS will not climb down from its position and will only intensify its campaign,” he said.