BJP's yatras to gain political mileage: VHP

VHP criticised LK Advani and Rajnath Singh's yatras, saying these these were to 'gain political mileage'.

india Updated: Mar 30, 2006 23:07 IST

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Thursday came down heavily on the 'yatras' being undertaken next month by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders LK Advani and Rajnath Singh, saying these campaigns were being organised to 'gain political mileage'.

"Any political party organises such yatras and programmes for its selfish motives," senior VHP leader Acharya Giriaj Kishore said in an interview to BBC Hindi, referring to similar yatras -- euphemism for political campaigns -- undertaken by Advani in 1990 for the construction of a temple to Hindu god Ram at the site of the 16th century Babri mosque in Ayodhya.

'The Ram Janambhoomi temple was a device for the BJP, whereas for us it is a matter of faith. For them it was merely a political question. Even today if they are doing something it would be to gain political mileage and not for the construction of the temple,' Kishore maintained.

Advani had announced on March 8, a day after the terror blasts killed 15 people in the Hindu pilgrim town of Varanasi, that he and Rajnath Singh would be undertaking the yatras to protest what he called the Government's policies to appease the minorities.

Originally termed national integration rallies, the campaigns have now been termed national security rallies.

The VHP had immediately criticised the plan that has been welcomed by the BJP's ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Questioning the statements of the BJP leadership that the party was committed to constructing the Ram temple, Kishore said, "My question to the BJP is straightforward, when they were in power for six years and could have done something, they did not do anything. Now once again do they want to deceive the Hindus in their bid to capture power?"
Asked about Advani's statements that the Ram temple would be built in Ayodhya, the VHP leader said, "He can say anything. We are clear that Advani's (1990) rath yatra was not a Ram yatra.

"Since the Government of that time implemented (the report of) the Mandal Commission (laying down quotas in government jobs for the socially underprivileged), Advani wanted to counter the Mandal move and also wanted to distance from the Government.

"It was for these reasons that he decided to take out the rath yatra, and he succeeded in his political goal, it had nothing to do with the Ram temple."

The BJP had supported from outside the coalition government formed by then Prime Minister VP Singh of the Janata Dal after the 1989 general election. The Government fell when the BJP withdrew support in the wake of Advani being arrested during his rath yatra in Bihar.

Asked about Congress president Sonia Gandhi's resignation from the Lok Sabha and the National Advisory Council last week, Kishore said, "our president Ashok Singhal has welcomed the resignation for the simple reason that nobody else facing allegations of holding an office of profit resigned."

"We think that much depends on the intention behind your decision. Sonia's step was aimed at cleverly checkmating the rivals and cannot be counted in the category of sacrifice. She has taken a step all right, but had it been with the positive intention it would have been better," the VHP leader said.

First Published: Mar 30, 2006 22:03 IST