Ayodhya ki Awaz

There is now a significant disillusionment with the VHP’s temple construction movement among the mahants in Ayodhya

The voice of dissent has probably never been louder. There is now significant disillusionment with the VHP’s temple construction movement among the mahants in Ayodhya. In an important meeting held on October 7 in Tulsi Chaura mandir of Ayodhya, it was decided to oppose the VHP’s programme on October 17 and ask the administration to ban it.

The meeting was chaired by Mahant Bhavnath Das, the president of the Samajwadi Sant Sabha and coordinated by Jugal Kishore Shashtri, the convenor of a newly-formed forum called ‘Ayodhya ki Awaz’, to work towards preserving peace and harmony in Ayodhya.

Prominent among the 150-200 people who attended this meeting were mahants Saryu Das, Janmejaya Sharan, Madhavacharya, Avadh Ram Das, Kaushal Kishore, Srinarayanachari, Jai Ram Das, Bal Vyas Bharat Das, Sadiq Ali ‘Babu Tailor’, and corporators Asad Ahmad and Madhuwan Das.

Madhavacharyaji revealed that Ashok Singhal was telling a complete lie when he said that the decision to organise a programme in Ayodhya on October 17 was taken by sants. He said he was present at the meeting and almost every sant opposed it. The sants were questioning the propriety of organising such programmes in Ayodhya repeatedly. When no consensus could be reached, the meeting was adjourned and VHP office bearers later decided the programme on their own and were now imposing it upon people.

Srinarayanachariji said that the VHP decision smacked of politics. Why did the VHP not organise any programmes for temple construction when there were favourable governments in UP? They want to create a situation of confrontation with the present government so that the resulting tension can polarise the Hindu votes.

The mahants were critical of the VHP for having abused the Hindu religion for political purposes. They said that they would welcome anybody in Ayodhya who genuinely came for darshan but would not welcome people like Singhal and Togadia who make a living out of the Ayodhya-Ramjanmabhoomi movement themselves but create a situation in Ayodhya from time to time where the people of Ayodhya have to starve.

Only in March last year, during the VHP’s shila pujan programme, a 17-day curfew was imposed, creating a great deal of inconvenience for the residents of Ayodhya. The Ram temple construction movement of the VHP has taken a heavy toll on the Ayodhya economy and people are now getting irritated with the gimmicks of the VHP.

Srinarayanchariji advised Singhal to move elsewhere for his agitation for the Ram temple movement and leave Ayodhya alone. He said that the Hindus and Muslims of Ayodhya were perfectly capable of solving the Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi dispute and knew how to live in peace with each other.

He recalled how in 1983, Singhal, who used to move around in a rickshaw at the time, would plead with the sants of Ayodhya to allow him to join the Ramjanmabhoomi movement. Today he is enjoying VIP status while the sants of Ayodhya have been marginalised.

Volunteers of ‘Ayodhya ki Awaz’ wanted to burn an effigy of Singhal and Togadia at the end of the meeting but the administration prevented them from doing so. The station officer of Ayodhya kotwali picked up the effigy and took it away to his police station.

It is noteworthy that since the BJP-led government came to power at the Centre, the only organisation that has been allowed to hold its programmes in Ayodhya is the VHP. Other organisations are prevented from holding their programmes.

(The above report was filed by Asha Ashram, a Lucknow-Faizabad based NGO run by Sandeep Pandey and Arundhati Dhuru).



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