A file photo of makeshift Ram temple in Ayodhya.
A file photo of makeshift Ram temple in Ayodhya.

Saints to hold meet on Ayodhya issue, VHP to attend gathering

While VHP functionaries will attend the October meeting, there is no confirmation on whether RSS functionaries will be present for the decision-making process.
By Smriti Kak Ramachandran | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON SEP 13, 2018 12:11 AM IST

A high-powered steering committee of Hindu saints called the Ucchadhikar Samiti will meet in Delhi in the first week of October to draft an action plan for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya even as it becomes clear that the legal route will not immediately facilitate this .

According to functionaries in the VHP, an offshoot of the RSS, there is “disappointment” that a legal decision on the contentious issues is “unlikely” to be announced anytime soon; and the saints have now been mandated to come up with an alternate plan of action. The VHP had pinned its hopes on the Supreme Court delivering a judgment that would be “acceptable to all sections.”

“There was expectation that the outgoing chief justice would deliver a judgment before he demits office on October 2; with that unlikely to happen, it has been decided to let the saints take a call,” said a functionary who asked not to be identified. That’s because, in the course of arguments, the three judge bench headed by the chief justice that is hearing the case first decided to see whether a five-judge bench should consider whether a mosque is integral to Islam (as ruled by the apex court itself in 1994). The actual title dispute will be heard later.

While VHP functionaries will attend the October meeting, there is no confirmation on whether RSS functionaries will be present for the decision-making process.

VHP working president Alok Kumar confirmed the meeting. He said that while day-to-day hearings were going on in the case pertaining to conspiracy charges against senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and others in the demolition of Babri Masjid, the case pertaining to the construction of a temple is still pending.

“In 2017, the court used the idiom ‘Let justice be done, though the heavens fall’, to invoke its extraordinary constitutional authority to transfer the trial of a case against Advani ji from Rae Bareli court to a Lucknow court for joint trial of two sets of cases arising out of the demolition of the Babri Masjid. The Ram temple issue, which has an effect on communal harmony, is not being decided, so the saints have been requested to take a call,” he said.

The construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site has been on the agenda of the RSS and the VHP. The VHP has ruled out allowing a mosque to come up there, and had earlier suggested paving the way for the construction of a temple by way of a legislation passed by Parliament.

Political analyst Shirish Kashikar said the meeting was VHP’s way of sending a message to society at large that it has not given up on the Ram Temple issue. “They cannot pressurise the judiciary, but this is their way of creating some kind of pressure to keep the issue alive. They want a message to go out that the VHP is committed to the cause of the temple,” he said.

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