Giving a fresh direction to its agenda of a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad is set to take its movement to rural areas across the country. The Hindutva outfit has announced it would organise a “Ram Mahotsav” in April across the country to build support for the temple and awareness about the Hindu deity. The VHP’s latest programme targets to reach out to around 1.25 lakh villages. The outfit would also encourage people to erect idols or construct temples of Lord Ram in each of these villages during the Mahotsav, which coincides with Ram Navami, festival celebrating the birth of Lord Ram.
“A Ram Mahotsav will be held across the country from April 8 to 19. During this period, Lord Ram would be worshipped in these villages. Through archanas, light will be thrown on his religious persona and also his significance in today’s times,” Sharad Sharma, VHP spokesperson, told The Hindu .
In course of the Ram Mahotsav, the VHP would also arrange discourse on the Ram Mandir and appeal them to come forward for the construction of a temple, Mr. Sharma said. The VHP has intensified its outreach in rural areas and is frequently holding small-level local meetings in villages to build strategy for the issue, which is expected to get further fuel ahead of the 2017 polls.
“Under the present circumstances in the country — where people are divided on caste and other lines - Lord Ram has the capacity to break all these barriers and completely unite all sects into one thread,” Mr. Sharma said. This comes weeks after a consignment of pink sandstones meant for the construction of a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya was > transported into the VHP premises in the temple town.
The Samajwadi Party government could be headed for yet another confrontation with the VHP, as sources say another consignment of pink sandstones could arrive in the temple town shortly. While accusing the BJP-VHP of playing with people’s sentiments over the issue, Shivpal Singh Yadav, senior cabinet minister, has said “not a single brick would be moved or installed” at the disputed site in the temple town. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has also directed strict action against those who indulge in rumour mongering or disrupt law and order. Mr. Yadav has already sacked a senior government advisor, Ompal Nehra, who enjoyed the rank of a minister, for appealing Muslims to participate in “Karseva” and give up their claim to the mosque.
Mr. Sharma dismissed allegations that the VHP’s renewed focus on the Mandir was politically motivated. “Lord Ram is a matter of astha (faith). He cannot be a matter of politics. We have been organising such Mahotsavs for the past two years,” said Mr. Sharma. “If these so-called secular parties are not in favour of a Ram Mandir, it is due to their compulsions of vote bank politics. What stops Mayawati (Bahujan Samaj Party supremo), Akhilesh Yadav and Sonia Gandhi (Congress president) from offering prayers at Ram Lalla’s temple in Ayodhya?”