Several prominent sadhus have threatened to boycott the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Dharma Sansad—a much-hyped two-day conclave of Hindu religious leaders, to be held on 31 January and 1 February at the Ardh Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj. The sadhus are upset with a recent remark by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In an interview to the news agency ANI on 1 January this year, Modi ruled out an ordinance on the Ram temple in Ayodhya until the judicial process is over. He said that the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit “is before the judiciary,” and the government would let that process “be completed” first. “Once it comes from the judiciary, wherever the responsibility of a government begins, we are ready to make all efforts,” he said.
The statement was at odds with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s stance. The RSS has been attempting to rekindle the communally sensitive issue of the Ram temple ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. In recent months, it has made a renewed pitch for an ordinance or central legislation to expedite the process of building the Ram temple in Ayodhya. The Dharma Sansad is important to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s efforts—the Ram temple is the VHP conclave’s single-point agenda. The Sansad aims to declare a date for the construction of the temple and ask the government to take appropriate steps to facilitate the process.
In the aftermath of Modi’s interview, the VHP has launched a massive exercise to placate the sadhus and persuade them of its commitment to the issue. It has mobilised its entire core committee—including its top office-bearers, such as Champat Rai, Rajendra Singh Pankaj, Jiveshwar Mishra, Ashok Tiwari, Dinesh, Vinayakrao Deshpande and Ras Bihari—to convince sadhus that the Sangh Parivar is sincere about the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.