#Interview ‘Supreme Court is Guilty of Avoiding its Duty’: Alok Kumar, VHP Woking President
The Working President of VHP Shri Alok Kumar feels that the Supreme Court is guilty of avoiding its duty in the Ram Temple case. He said in the criminal case of demolition of the disputed structure, the apex court has passed the order for the District Judge to decide the case before March 2019. He asked if the court is so particular in the criminal case how can it say in the substantive appeals that it is not in its priority. In an exclusive interview to Organiser editor Prafulla Ketkar and Chief News Coordinator Dr Pramod Kumar he elaborated on the intent of the movement with a belief that the Union Government still has time to build the temple and they should act. Excerpts:
Q. Since the massive Rally by VHP at Ramlila Ground of Delhi, Ram Janmabhoomi has come to the fore. What was the specific purpose of this rally and ‘why now’?
These are two questions. ‘Why now’ is the second one. I answer the first one. We are holding 543 rallies, in each of the Parliamentary constituency of India, of which one was in Delhi. And thereafter we are meeting the Members of Parliament of that area in order to persuade him/her to support legislation for Shri Ram Janmabhoomi and also to persuade his/her party to support such a resolution. The objective of the rally was to strengthen the NDA in bringing such a Bill and to persuade the parties outside the NDA to extend support to it. We received a massive response from the people. For example, Delhi rally was the biggest the Ramlila Maidan has ever witnessed. It was extended up to Rajghat and ITO. The roads too included in the Rally area by the people sitting there, watching the proceedings on LED and hearing the speeches on loudspeakers.
As far as ‘why now’ is concerned, it has a rational answer. I understand that your full question on ‘why now’ is “why near the elections”. I would say that it is a coincidence. The bench of Justice Dipak Misra had seriously started on to the hearing path. They had dismissed all the thirty-one intervention applications. They insisted upon translation of the papers, which was done. And we were hopeful that they would decide the case. The Dharma Sansad at its Manguluru meeting considered this, and the saints felt that if the court decides, it is a better course. Then the parties opposing the temple will have no chance to make unnecessary noises. Justice Misra was retiring on October 2, 2018. So, the saints opined to wait. And we waited till September 2018.
Meanwhile, the things intertwined like the impeachment motion and press conference by some judges. Finally, the matter was not decided. We felt that we were cheated. Therefore, the saints said if the courts do not decide and we are in the courts for 68 years, then let us use the second alternative—the constitutional and legal alternative of asking the government to bring a Bill for that purpose. Therefore, it started in October. When the next Chief Justice said in the open court that Ram Janmabhoomi appeals are not on their priority list, it made apparent that our resolve to ask the government to bring a Bill was well founded.
Q. It means, originally the idea was not just to speak in Delhi, but all over the country in all 543 constituencies?
Which has happened. The press has widely reported the Ayodhya Rally, the Nagpur Rally where the Sarsanghachalak addressed, the Mumbai Rally where 80,000 people assembled and even in small towns where 40-50,000 people came asking for Shri Ram Janmabhoomi temple. It is an all India movement.
Q. How many rallies have already taken place?
More than 350, and it continues.
Q. Are you approaching each and every political party?
Of course. We are trying to enlist the support of the non-NDA parties also. We believe that the party which is trying to take on the path of soft-Hindutva, whose leader is proclaimed to be wearing a ‘janeu’, now he remembered his ‘gotra’ too, he visits the Teerthas and is promising in the party manifesto a cow urine processing plant in every district. Now they have announced a spiritual ministry also. I think they would not take the risk of voting against the Bill. They may boycott, but will not vote against the Bill. I have noticed that even the so-called secular press like ‘The Hindu’ and ‘The Indian Express’ and the so-called secular news channels are not opposing the demand, what they are arguing against is the timing of it. So, there is an atmosphere in the country where the Bill, if comes, will receive wider support. It will get through with a good majority.
Q. Another interpretation of this timing is ‘polarisation in favour of the BJP’. Since there are some constraints within the NDA partners also, do you think the government will be able to act in this favour?
There may be some constraints, but overall there would be a huge support to it. As far as the political benefits are concerned, imagine a situation where the Indian National Congress takes a logical stand and announces that the party will support the Bill, who gets the spoil and who gets the votes. Every party, which would be on the side of Shri Ram, would get an electoral advantage. Every party which votes against Shri Ram would have to face the wrath of the nationalist section of the country. It is for the parties to decide whether they wish to gain from it or they wish to lose it. Standing on the side of Shri Ram is to stand on the side of nationalism or the side of ‘Bharatiya Tatva’. It has merits.
Q. Many people argue that this is an old issue and there is no attraction for the Ayodhya cause among the younger generation. A temple is already there, and any day a grand temple will come up. Then why to agitate?
Well, some day or the other. When is the other day? Suggesting this to us after 26 years of Shri Ram living in a tent, 68 years when the litigation was started, around 400 years when the temple was demolished, is it not enough wait? How long can you stretch the tolerance of the Hindu society?
We are happy to find out that more than 50 per cent of the people who came to our public meetings were below the age of 40 years. To my surprise, and I will not conceal my happiness, that when Shri Rajnath Singh went to address the Yuva Kumbh in Varanasi consisting of not the rural crowd but youth from medical colleges, management institutions, engineering students and not belonging to the RSS or VHP cadre, but presenting a cross-section of the Indian society, shouted slogans to him “Jo Mandir Banvayega, Vote usi ko Jayega”. It happened for seven-eight minutes. What does it convey? To me, it conveys that it is not the interval between two phases of the agitation, which has 26 years in this case, Shri Ram is in our genes, He is in our hearts.
Yesterday, I went to a Ramkatha. Yesterday’s episode was of Shri Ram’s birth. I found the whole Pandal was dancing with joy as if they were witness to the birth of Ram. Therefore, the emotions to Ram temple cannot be measured, He lives in our heart, and He inspires us to fight for the temple. The same position is with the youth of the country.
Q. Now you have chalked out an action plan, and you are going to 543 constituencies, what is the next step of the agitation?
In this month, we have already started the next step, i.e. holding of the Anusthans for Shri Ram Temple seeking favour from all the elements of nature. Anusthans are being organised at all the religious places across the country. On January 31 and February 1st, we have called Dharma Sansad during Kumbh in Prayagraj. We expect 2000 or more saints to assemble. We will report the proceedings to them and would seek their guidance on the matter for the future course of action.
Q. Your immediate insistence is that the government should bring a Bill. Right?
That is right.
Q. Do you have any dialogue with the government in this regard?
We are meeting all the MPs including the ministers. And nobody has asked us “why now”?
Q. Is there any discussion with the Prime Minister or the Home Minister also?
We met the President and the Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh. We have also met other members of the Council of Ministers.
Q. Do you see that the government will bring a Bill for the temple?
You have dialled a wrong number. You have to ask them only.
Q. Is the VHP hopeful?
Yes, we are hopeful because all that we are asking the BJP-led government is to implement the Palampur resolution, in which the party had mentioned two options—waiting for the court process or the law. They wrote a long section on why a court process is not an appropriate remedy, and then they said the way to Shri Ram temple is through negotiations if they fail by law—and not by a court judgement. In 2014, in their manifesto, they have promised all endeavours for Ram Mandir. So, we are asking them to do precisely the same. Precisely, the thing for which Advaniji took out his Rathyatra. We are not asking them to do anything else.
Q. Besides the government, there are some elements in the opposition who have used all their might to stall the proceedings even in the court. Are you trying to address them also?
We have decided to go through a lawful way. If a law comes, the way would be cleared, and the temple would be constructed. And it would have such a force that anybody will have to think a thousand times before opposing it. I am happy that none of the political party, except our friends from Hyderabad, is speaking against the temple. We expect wider support.
We have said that we would welcome, if we are allowed to build a temple at the birthplace, which cannot be shifted, if the Muslims are given an appropriate size of land by the government anywhere of their choice where the Muslims have majority, even in Lucknow, to built up a grand mosque and make it a centre of their activities. Let there be a Ram Temple in Ayodhya and let there by a grand mosque at the place of their choice outside the boundaries of Ayodhya where there is no sizeable number of Muslims. After that, both should live with amity and friendship.
Q. You see a Ram temple for communal harmony also?
Yes, and I believe that a majority of Muslims have accepted that situation. I found an article by AG Noorani in ‘Frontline’. He has raised a question if the courts were to rule tomorrow let the place should be a mosque, is there any possibility or power in the country that can remove Ramlala from that temple? And he suggested that it cannot be done. The legal hurdles have to be removed. The fact is that no sane person would even think of removing the Ramlala from that place. That cannot be done. Then why not accept the situation. So, let us move and have amity and peace. Awadh has been an area where there has been an intermingling of two cultures. They have evolved a secular world. When the Hindus and Muslims meet each other, they use ‘Aadab’ which means the same thing as Namaste—I bow to you. So, that has been a laboratory where the two cultures mingled. That can again be a place from which the message of peace can go out to the world. Ayodhya means a place where no war has taken place. Let there be a temple and let that message be good for Hindus and Muslims both.
Q. Do you think the proceedings in the court would begin on January 4, 2019?
Before every date, we hope for that and come back frustrated, with a comment that ‘it is not our priority’. Do you know in the criminal case of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi, the demolition matter, the Supreme Court has passed an order to the District Judge saying to decide by March 2019. Now there are loads of files, hundreds of witnesses. When that was explained to the court, the judges used an idiom in the judgement which means ‘heavens may fall, the justice be done’. Why don’t they use the same principle in the main matter? They also said that this judge would not be transferred to any other place or not shifted till he decides the matter. The same judge is to come to the High Court. He filed a petition in the Supreme Court that the elevation should be not obstructed. The Supreme Court asked him to file a report as to how he has planned to complete the hearing. If you are so particular there, saying ‘heavens may fall the justice be done’, but here you say that this is not your priority. In the same matter the substantive appeals are not your priority, and in the criminal case, you say the heavens may fall…I feel the Supreme Court has been guilty of avoiding its duty.
Q. There is growing public perception, and some saints have also started saying that the mandate in 2014 was for the temple and now they are not keeping their words?
I agree with the first part of this question. The mandate is for the Ram temple. But I reserve my judgement on the second part of the question. They still have time to build the temple. So, I will wait for the next few months also and hope that they succeed.