The Gujarat chief minister and the newly appointed Chairman of the Election Campaign Committee of the BJP for the 2014 polls, Narendra Modi, is not coming to Ayodhya. Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, head of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad sponsored Ram Janma Bhoomi Nyas (trust) in Ayodhya, had extended an invitation to all the BJP chief ministers, VHP leaders and BJP president Rajnath Singh, to participate in a five day long `Amrit Mahotsav’ function to celebrate 50 years of his ascension as the Mahant of the Maniram Chavani at Ayodhya. The five day long function commenced today at Ayodhya and the Mahant also turned seventy five today. The Mahotsav will conclude on 22 June.
According to the Sangh Parivar sources, none of the BJP leaders will go to Ayodhya and only VHP chief Ashok Singhal and Praveen Togadia are expected to turn up at the temple town on 20 June.
The BJP sources in UP said they have no information so far about the visit of the Gujarat chief minister to Ayodhya or anywhere in the state. “The Gujarat chief minister has a Z plus security cover and the information about his state visit will first come to the UP government, so far we have no such information,” says Vijay Pathak, spokesman of the state BJP in Uttar Pradesh.
Sharad Sharma, the spokesman of the VHP at Ayodhya also said, “I have no information about the visit of Narendra Modi to Ayodhya and moreover the five day long programme organised by the Ram Janma bhomi Nyas is the religious function of the trust and not the official programme of the VHP.”
Vinod Bansal, VHP spokesman in Delhi endorsing his counterpart at Ayodhya said, “the five day programme is not the official programme of the VHP, but all our programmes are run under the guidance of the holy men of Ayodhya and other holy places, our leaders Ashok Singhal and Praveen Togadia are expected to participate in the five day long function.” Pravin Togadia, when asked about his proposed visit to Ayodhya, refused to comment saying, “this question can’t be answered on phone.”
The VHP had set up the Ram Janma Bhoomi trust soon after the unlocking of the Babri masjid on the orders of the district and sessions judge of Faizabad on February 1, 1986, with the objective of the construction of a grand Ram temple at Ayodhya at the disputed site. Mahant Nritya Gopal Das had succeeded Mahant Ramchandra Paramhans Das, after his death on 31 July, 2003.
Speculations over the visit of Modi to Ayodhya had given rise to the impression in the political circles that the Sangh Parivaar is all set to stoke the fires of Hindutuva and Ram temple ahead of the crucial 2014 parliament elections.
Political observers here point out that the Ram temple or the Ayodhya issue is not on the agenda of Narendra Modi, as he hardly needs the emotive issue for underlining his credentials as the poster boy of Hindutuva. “His mere presence in the electoral arena is sufficient for affecting the communal polarisation, his profile is already saleable among a sizeable section of the electorate in UP and other parts of the country, particularly in the urban areas. So right now he does not need an emotive issue like the Ram temple to enhance his appeal,” said a political analyst. Moreover he added, “The BJP had gone to successive polls in the last two decades with the temple issue and now the law of diminishing returns is in force, so it’s highly unlikely that Modi will kick of his campaign in UP from Ayodhya.”
“A sophisticated leader like Narendra Modi will never kick off his campaign from Ayodhya. Modi’s package for the electorate includes strong progressive nationalism, fast paced development, enhancing the global image of India, corruption free India and institution oriented politics which is against family rule and nepotism in politics,” said Ashutosh Mishra, Prof of political science in the Lucknow University. “The Ram temple may figure in his priorities at a much later stage after Modi tests the political waters of UP, addresses public meetings across the state, sees the response and turnout and is able to gauge the mood and preference of the people,” he added.
“Modi may harp on the temple issue if his strategists feel the need to attack the policy of minority appeasement pursued by the other political parties as this will further sharpen the polarisation of the electorate along communal lines, “said Ashutosh Mishra.
“If Modi rakes up the temple issue it is all set to back fire on him and the BJP as it will revive the old memories of the people, Ram Lalla Tripaal Mein, Neta Batti Lal Mein (Lord Ram under tarpaulin and BJP leaders enjoying power with becon lights),” said a state BJP leader. Moreover he said, ” Pravin Togadia, VHP leader and bête noire of Narendra Modi, has already accused him of demolishing more temples in Gujarat than destroyed by Aurangzeb and Ahmed Shah Abdali together.”
“The national campaign programme of Narendra Modi is being worked out by the party leadership and it will be announced soon and so far Ayodhya is not in his itinerary,” said Vijay Pathak, spokesman of the state BJP.