Ahead of 2019 polls, RSS rally pitches for Ram temple in Ayodhya

VHP leaders said initiative by the Muslim community for construction of Ram temple will bring harmony

New Delhi: Raising the pitch for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is the ideological parent of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on Sunday said that those in power should remember their promise of building a grand temple at the disputed site.

During a day-long public meeting of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), another affiliate of the RSS, which is spearheading the movement, members of the RSS and VHP decided to launch a nationwide door-to-door campaign later this month to put pressure on the Union government.

“Those in power today had promised to construct a Ram temple. They should listen to people and fulfil the demand of a temple in Ayodhya. They are aware of the sentiments. We are not begging for it. We are expressing our emotions. The country wants Ram Rajya," said Suresh ‘Bhaiyyaji’ Joshi, national general secretary, or Sarkaryawaha, of the RSS. Joshi is also the executive head of the RSS.

The timing of the ‘dharam sansad’, or congregation of Hindu religious leaders, in the national capital comes just two days before the start of the month-long winter session of Parliament--the last full session before the general elections early next year.

“We have a very clear demand and we do not want to compromise on it. We want the entire land of the disputed site and not divided land. We will not let the land at Lord Ram’s birth place go to any other group," said Champat Rai, a senior VHP leader.

RSS and VHP said the Union government should take constructive steps to pass a bill in Parliament for the construction of the temple in Ayodhya. “Ram Rajya means that governance will be responsive to the demands of the people. The government has to respect the wishes of the people because it is the responsibility of the present government," said Joshi.

The VHP is also preparing for a nationwide door-to-door campaign to gather support for the early construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya. The outreach campaign is scheduled on 18-26 December. “We want to put pressure on the Union government and all other political parties should come forward and support the demand for a Ram temple. People have waited for it for more than 25 years and now they are not ready to wait any longer. The government should understand the sentiments of the devotees of Lord Ram," said Vinod Bansal, another senior VHP leader.

With the 2019 general elections scheduled to take place within the next six months, the RSS and the VHP have planned dharam sansad in every Lok Sabha constituency. “Ram temple is not a political issue and it should not be seen as an issue raised by one political party. We are meeting all Members of Parliament (MPs) to request them to take steps for Ram temple construction. The message is very clear, either take steps to pass a bill in Parliament, or there is a chance that MPs not supportive of the demand would lose their Lok Sabha seat," said Bansal.

VHP members have also requested religious leaders of the Muslim community to join the movement and voluntarily give up the land at the disputed site to Hindus for the construction of a temple. VHP leaders said any initiative taken by the Muslim community for the early construction of the temple will bring harmony between the majority and minority communities.

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