Ramjanbhoomi: SP’s failed plank to outflank BJP

In a letter, UP administration called a meeting to discuss the construction of a Shri Ramjanbhoomi temple in Ayodhya through a parliamentary law on lines of the reconstruction of the Somnath temple in Gujarat.

The ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) came under heavy fire from the opposition on Saturday over a letter purportedly calling a meeting of officials to discuss the re-construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya.

In a letter (4622 D/F-Pu-4-2013) dated Oct 9, Sarvesh Chandra Mishra, secretary of the state home department had informed senior police and administrative officials of a meeting to “discuss the construction of a Shri Ramjanbhoomi temple in Ayodhya through a parliamentary law on lines of the reconstruction of the Somnath temple in Gujarat”.

The letter further detailed that the meeting would be presided over by principal secretary (Home) at the IInd floor command centre of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Bhawan office Oct 14.

The invitees include the director general of police (DGP), additional director general of police (ADG) law and order, IG (railways), ADG (Intelligence), IG (law and Order), IG Lucknow, IG Faizabad and DM/SSP Faizabad.

The letter has come as a big blow to the Akhilesh Yadav government with regard to its relationship with Muslims, who are angry over the Muzaffarnagar riots of September that killed 62 persons and displaced over 43,000.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) termed the letter as yet “another attempt of a failed government to win votes.”

“This letter proves that not only is SP confused, but also desperate to get votes as it is the same party which ordered firing at innocent kar sevaks in the 90s” said Vijay Bahadur Pathak, state spokesman of the BJP.

The state government, meanwhile, said the letter had some “typographical errors” and added that they had been subsequently rectified. “There is no such move with regards to temple construction” an official said, adding that a probe would look into the issue on how such a blunder took place.

Principal secretary (home) RM Srivastava, who has to chair the meeting, sought to tamp down the speculation about the purpose of the meeting by saying it was meant only to discuss the repercussions of VHP’s fresh plan to revive its temple campaign. He said that VHP has planned to observe a Sankalp Diwas where its cadre will take a fresh pledge to build the Ram temple.

Srivastava also counseled against reading meaning into the reference to reconstruction project at Somnath. The senior bureaucrat explained that VHP had organised a similar Sankalp Diwas at Somnath earlier, and this may have been the reason for the reference,

Refusing to buy the “error” explanation, the Congress said that the clarification was “shady”, and raised suspicion that there was some “match-fixing between the SP and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)”.

The Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) spokesman Zeeshan Haider said that there can be an error of a word or two, but it stretched credulity when entire sentences were different from the draft. “This is ridiculous, and raises enough questions,” he said.

SP leader Naresh Agarwal too denied that there was a move to build a temple, and said that the meeting was to be held in connection with security arrangements during the festival season.

The description of the subject, with a specific mention of the reconstruction of a temple at “Shri Ramjanmabhoomi on the lines of the reconstruction of temple at Somnath” is an interesting one as the term is typical to RSS.

The reference to Somnath also stands out as the BJP and Sangh Parivar have defended their campaign for the construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya by drawing an analogy of government’s support for reconstruction of the legendary Shiv temple at Somnath after independence.

Also, VHP has for long demanded a central law to facilitate the construction of Ayodhya temple.

However, many remained sceptical, pointing out that seasoned officers are not expected to be casual while drafting communiques on issues as sensitive as Ayodhya.

Given that Narendra Modi has taken the latest stand on behalf of BJP and RSS as “toilet over temple” it is hard to swallow the excuse given by UP administration.

Others disagreed, saying that Mulayam Singh Yadav would not risk the “Maulana” standing that he acquired among Muslims by taking a tough stand against temple campaign in 1990, particularly after the SP government’s handling of communal riots has been criticized.

If SP was trying to outflank the BJP by defusing a potential plank of Modi, it surely has failed in its start.


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