In the first week of February 2019, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh both announced their decisions to temporarily stop the agitation for the construction of a temple on the disputed Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi site, till the Lok Sabha elections are over. For months, RSS and VHP leaders have sought to revive the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, effectively making it a central electoral plank for the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Sangh Parivar has even attacked judges of the Supreme Court for what an RSS leader claimed were “delaying tactics” on taking a decision regarding the dispute. It is likely that the decision to put the agitation on hold is not to show reverence for the Supreme Court or express faith in the law of the land, but a result of efforts by religious leaders close to the Congress.
Just four months ago, Mohan Bhagwat, the chief of the RSS, had pitched for an ordinance to build the temple and bypass the legal process. That month, Alok Kumar, the working president of the VHP, declared that a date for building the temple would be announced during the Dharma Sansad—a much-hyped two-day conclave of Hindi religious leaders, which took place on 31 January and 1 February this year. The Dharma Sansad was convened at the ongoing Ardh-Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj, in Uttar Pradesh. But it was attended by less than 1,000 religious leaders, most of whom were from the Sangh Parivar, and no such date for the construction of the temple was announced during the conclave.
A day before the Dharma Sansad, Swaroopanand Saraswati, the shankaracharya of the Dwarka Peeth—the head of the peeth—announced that he would lead a march to Ayodhya and lay the foundation stone for the construction of temple on 21 February. Saraswati is the spiritual guru of the Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, and is considered close to the party.