Ayodhya tense as VHP organises massive 'Dharam Sabha' to push for Ram temple

Shiv Sena activists in Ayodhya ahead of the 'Dharam Sabha'. Photograph:( PTI )

PTI Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, India Nov 25, 2018, 09.33 AM (IST)

Arriving here for Sunday's VHP rally for a Ram temple, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray asked the Narendra Modi government to wake up from a "Kumbhakarna-like slumber" and declare the date for its construction.

"I have come here to awaken the Kumbhakarana," he said Saturday, indirectly comparing Modi, or his government, to the Ramayana character known for sleeping for months at a stretch.

"Today's Kumbhakarna has been sleeping for the past four years," he said.

The town turned into a virtual fortress with multiple layers of security and deployment of drones as people began arriving here for Sunday's `Dharam Sabha', being organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to push for the construction of the Ram temple.

The Sena leader is also urging the government to bring legislation or an ordinance for building the temple on the disputed site in Ayodhya, but he has not linked his own two-day visit to VHP event.

The VHP claimed three lakh people, including seers, will attend its public meeting, which has triggered some apprehension over the safety of the town's Muslim community.

Samajwadi Party and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav said the Army should be deployed in Ayodhya, if needed, to maintain law and order.

All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) Zafaryab Jilani said Muslims in Ayodhya are "terrified" ahead of the VHP meeting.

No untoward incident was reported Saturday and the police assured that strict security arrangements are in place.

Thackeray said his party will support any legislation or ordinance for the Ram Mandir, which Hindutva organisations want to be constructed at the site where the Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992.

"Day, months, years and generations have passed," the Sena leader said on what he described as his first visit to the town to seek "darshan" of Ram Lalla.

"Mandir wahin baneyange, par date nahin batayenge (You say you will make the temple there, but won't tell the date)," he said.

"First say when you will construct the temple, the rest we will talk later," he said in what sounded like a dare to the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government.

He said bringing a law on the temple's construction may have been difficult during Atal Bihari Vajpayee's term as it was a coalition government then.

But the current government is strong, and the BJP is in power both at the Centre and in the state.

"Bring an ordinance or law, the Shiv Sena will support it,?" he said.

The Sena chief said he did not want to take the credit for the temple's construction, and others were free to do so."But how many years should we wait for the temple".

"Ram temple is a matter concerning faith and the government needs to bring a law before the court verdict," he said, referring to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land case before the Supreme Court.

The apex court has said it will set the dates for the future course of hearings only in January.

Thackeray recalled former prime minister Vajpayee as saying, 'Ab Hindu maat nahi khayega (Hindus will not be defeated now), and added, "Hindus will not sit silent."

''There is no political motive behind my visit to Ayodhya," he claimed.

The Sena chief was greeted with slogans of "Jai Shri Ram" when he arrived in Ayodhya with his wife Rashmi and son Aditya.

Mahant Nrityagopal Das, the chairman of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, was among those who welcomed Thackeray at Lakshman Qila, where the Sena leader made the remarks. A drone monitored the event.

Thackeray went to the banks of the Saryu river in the evening to offer prayers.
The Sena claimed to have brought several thousand supporters to Ayodhya for Thackeray's events.

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati has slammed the BJP and the Shiv Sena, saying they are raking up the Ram temple issue ahead of the Lok Sabha polls to divert attention from their failures.

"Had their intentions been good they needn't have waited for five years. It's their political tactic, nothing else," she said in a statement.

Story highlights

The VHP said 3 lakh people are expected to attend. The town meanwhile has been turned into a virtual fortress with multiple layers of security deployed on the ground, and drones in the air.