CONTENDING THAT there is a “need” for a ‘Ram rajya’ in the country, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Friday kicked off from Assam and West Bengal its 15-day celebration of ‘Ram Janmotsava’, under which it plans to install 1.25 lakh idols of the lord in villages across the country.
The event, through which the right-wing outfit plans to gather mass support for the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya, is scheduled to reach Uttar Pradesh on April 13 where religious processions and bhajans will be organised for the next two days.
“Discussions will be held on the life of lord Ram, need for a ‘Ram Rajya’ in the country and the Ram temple issue,” VHP’s spokesperson in Ayodhya Sharad Sharma said.
As part of the programme, the VHP, through its organisational units — mohalla samitis, upkhand, khand and prakhand — will distribute Ram’s idols among people with posters depicting the “proposed design of the temple”. Leaders will reportedly administer a “pledge” on people that they will join the campaign for the construction of Ram temple.
The outfit’s earlier plan to launch the country-wide programme simultaneously on Friday, the beginning of Navratri, had to be dropped because of the model code of conduct, which has become effective in five states undergoing elections at present.
VHP’s national joint general secretary Surendra Jain told The Indian Express that the celebration of Ram Janmotsava started in Assam, West Bengal, Delhi, Gujarat and Haryana on April 8, while other states will soon join in. The countrywide celebration will run until April 22.
Jain added that the outfit intends to “uphold” the model code of conduct in poll-bound states, and will therefore ensure that its programmes in these states are organised in “small gatherings”.
“We will not hold programmes of huge gatherings in the five states that are undergoing elections. A worker in West Bengal informed us that the administration there has denied permission to hold the event citing the imposition of model code of conduct. We are law-abiding citizens and will not violate the law,” Jain said.
Likewise, the MCC will also affect the scale of VHP’s celebration in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. In other states, the outfit has set a target to hold at least one major programme where the gathering numbers anywhere between 20,000 and 50,000 people.
About the delay in its celebration reaching Ayodhya, Sharma, the spokesperson there, said it is up to the workers when they organise the programmes. He said it has been decided that the main function will be held on the occasion of Ram Navmi, on April 15, when several lakh devotees are expected to visit Ayodhya for the holy dip in Saryu river.
Sharma rued that people are barred from visiting the makeshift temple on that day. “This will be the ideal time to raise our demand for the temple’s construction. Seers and saints will be present in Ayodhya and address devotees on Ram Janmotsava,” a VHP leader said.