A file photo of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.
Mumbai: A conclave of the top Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) decision-making body and senior leaders from affiliated mass organizations including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) begins on Wednesday on the outskirts of Mumbai.
Expected at the three-day meeting at the RSS’ Keshav Srushti campus are around 350 delegates, including the organization’s chief Mohan Bhagwat, other office-bearers of its national executive, BJP president Amit Shah and top functionaries from affiliates like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (students’ wing), Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (labour union), and Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (farmers’ union).
The meeting assumes enormous significance in the wake of the Supreme Court’s order on Monday listing the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute appeals for January 2019—that is, after the conclusion of a series of assembly elections this year. The ruling led to the RSS and its affiliates to demand legislation, or failing that an ordnance, that would enable them to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya at the spot where the Babri mosque was pulled down in 1992.
Notably, hours before the meeting was to begin, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath tweeted a series of videos in which he says, “It would have been good if the SC had settled the dispute…Justice delivered in time is considered best justice and delay in delivering justice amounts to injustice”. He said that the faith, sentiments and aspirations of crores of Indian people, who believed in peace and social harmony, must also be taken into account. He added that “all options to settle the dispute peacefully and considering the larger issues of faith and sentiments of crores of people were being explored by the government.”
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, who earlier demanded an Act to build Ram temple, will address the cadres Wednesday–
Asked if his government would issue an ordinance to hand over the disputed land to the Ram Janmabhoomi Trust, Adityanath said the dispute was pending in the SC and there was no such proposal on the table.
At his annual Vijaya Dashami speech in Nagpur on 18 October, Bhagwat demanded for an Act of Parliament to facilitate the construction of the temple. After the SC order on Monday, RSS spokesperson Arun Kumar reiterated the demand, asking the government to clear hurdles in the way of a “grand Ram mandir”.
Kumar told reporters the conclave would focus on organizational matters and issues of national importance. A senior RSS functionary, who did not want to be named, told Mint that the agenda had been set by three issues—Ram Mandir, the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the assembly elections in five states this November.
Dilip Deodhar, a long-time RSS observer based in Nagpur, said, “Bhagwat, (PM Narendra) Modi, BJP and VHP are all on the same page on Ram mandir and there have been clues to this effect right from 2014. My sense is that RSS and the larger Parivar will explore all constitutional, legal and political options to make a big move for Ram mandir before the next general elections, irrespective of what the SC does.”