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No compromise on Ram temple, says VHP working president Alok Kumar

Elected international working president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) last week, Alok Kumar says the organisation remains committed to the campaign for the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site

india Updated: Apr 20, 2018 07:43 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Alok Kumar,Ram temple,Ram Mandir
Alok Kumar, elected international working president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).(HT Photo)

Elected international working president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) last week, Alok Kumar says the organisation remains committed to the campaign for the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya . A former functionary of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and former deputy speaker of the Delhi assembly, Kumar, who is also a Supreme Court lawyer, said in an interview with Smriti Kak Ramachandran that the VHP will also focus on eradication of caste fault lines. Excerpts:

What will be the focus areas of the VHP under the new leadership?

There will be a continuity of the vision that was started in 1964. Right now, the top agenda is samajik samarasta (social harmony)... The second concern is the family system. We are worried to see rising tensions in families. Nuclear families are growing and divorce petitions are alarmingly increasing. We will revive Hindu values in families for better coherence. The third is social service . We will focus more on activities for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes (SCs and STs) in rural areas. And the Ram temple is a matter of faith for us.

Since former VHP working president Pravin Togadia has accused the Centre of failing to construct the temple, a change in leadership indicates political expediency.

The VHP is assertively clear on this: that a grand temple has to be constructed where Lord Rama was born. It will be built using the bricks that have been consecrated and sent from villages across the country and from pillars made there (Ayodhya)... The work will be done by the committee that is spearheading the movement.

Togadia alleged he was thrown out because he kept asking the government to fulfil its promise.

He contested an election and his candidate (Raghava Reddy) lost. There is no such thing as being thrown out, he resigned.. I do not have to comment on his new found realisations.

Has the leadership reached out to him?

There are no misgivings; let some time pass. It may become possible to talk.

In West Bengal and Kerala, the VHP has been raising the issue of communal polarisation, but these allegations have been rebutted.

If somebody creates a Muslim vote bank, they are responsible for building a counter-vote bank. These communalised vote banks are harmful to the county... (WB chief minister) Mamata Banerjee was acting very one-sided... When there were riots by Muslims, she penalised Hindus. She is guilty of creating communal tension in WB... In Kerala, there is a sordid game—whenever the communists come to power, the rate of murders increases. We are satisfied that it has become a national issue and we hope communists will abate the violence there.

The RSS, of which VHP is an affiliate, is accused of stoking communal conflicts. SC and ST communities are upset with the current dispensation, which is also part of the Sangh Parivar. How will you address their concerns?

I believe we have to move beyond tokenism — eating together, worshipping some SC girls on Ashtami day or sharing meals... For this we need to ensure three things. First, financial democracy — where SC/ST communities are strengthened to start their own industries and businesses.

Second, we need educational democracy, where they have avenues for better learning . Third is social democracy, where the dignity of each individual is respected irrespective of caste. I also believe we have to take stock of whether all sections, including SCs and STs are included in all decision-making bodies.

What do you make of the anger among these communities against the government?

I don’t know if it is a Dalit versus government issue. The anger was against the Supreme Court judgment on the SC/ST Act (which banned automatic arrests and registration of cases), but the government has already filed a review petition and the Prime Minister has said that if needed, they will amend the law.

Do you think the government has failed to effectively convey this?

There may be some confusion in some sections. But if you ask me about our stand on reservation, we clearly and emphatically say it should continue... If you ask me whether the Constitution should be reviewed, I will say no... Despite these assertions, there are attempts to create confusion. So the VHP will campaign to clear the air.

First Published: Apr 20, 2018 07:27 IST