The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) will enlist the support of Hindu religious heads during the Kumbh Mela in Nashik and Tryambakeshwar this July, to turn up the pressure on the Narendra Modi-led government for the construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya and a ban on religious conversions. The VHP will also seek the seers’ support in pressing for a ban on cow slaughter and removal of untouchability. This development was confirmed by VHP central secretary Prof Venkatesh Abdeo.
WHY CHOOSE THE KUMBH?
Because the Kumbh Mela draws millions of devotees from across the country, VHP considers it the ideal site to draw the attention of the masses to the centrepiece saffron agenda.
WHAT PART WILL THE SEERS PLAY?
“An action plan in this regard will be declared,” said Abdeo, adding that the ‘sants’ may also lay down a deadline for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. He pointed out that the seers had given a similar impetus to the Ram Janmabhoomi agitation in the past.
IS VHP BECOMING MORE HARDLINE ABOUT THE TEMPLE ISSUE?
Abdeo’s statements signify that the VHP is prepared to be more aggressive over the temple issue even today. Earlier, VHP international secretary general Champat Rai had told dna that before the bill to construct a Ram Temple at Ayodhya was passed, the Muslim community had to be “persuaded” to withdraw their claim on the disputed land and their case from the Supreme Court. He had said that the verdict of the Allahabad high court was sufficient for the government to make a law for the temple.
WHAT IS THE VHP’S MASS CAMPAIGN?
Now, the VHP will hold a mass campaign covering one lakh villages, including 9,000 in Maharashtra, to create a mass wave behind the Ram temple issue. The VHP’s campaign lasting from Gudi Padwa to Ram Navami in March, will consist of processions, religious discourses, keertans, speeches and contests. The VHP is seeking a law for the construction of the temple.
WILL GHAR VAPASI BE PART OF ANTI-CONVERSION LAW?
Speaking of pressing for a law banning conversions to religions other than Hinduism, Abdeo added that VHP would not stop its ghar vapsi programme (which re-converts Muslim and Christian converts to Hinduism). The VHP wants ghar vapsi to be left out of this legislation, as ghar vapasi signifies the reversion of converts to their original fold.
Abdeo said the religious heads will also pass resolutions against undesirable social practices such as untouchability. Abdeo added that the VHP, which was formed in Mumbai in 1964, had brought about reform by allowing women to chant the Vedas and training women priests to perform religious rites.