The standoff between the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh — facing flak for doing too little too late over the demolition of temples in Jaipur — and the Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government continued with the former sticking to its plan of bringing the state capital to a halt on Thursday.
The Sangh is backing Hindu organisations’ call for a two-hour ‘chakka jam’ on Thursday to protest against the demolition of temples in the Walled City.
However, caught napping on an issue considered to be at the core of its political ideology, the RSS has come in for criticism from the opposition Congress as well as some Hindu organisations. Central to the entire temple demolition outrage is the frequent invocation of Jaipur as Chhoti Kashi (Little Kashi or Varanasi)—a city high on religious fervour and known for its age old temples.
Posters and pamphlets being distributed in the Walled City by various organisations are replete with exhortations of saving the city’s religious heritage.
“The RSS got so angry over a BJP spokesperson’s Facebook post questioning Z+ security for Mohan Bhagwat that they had him removed. But why were they silent when temples were being demolished by their own government,” one such pamphlet issued by Gulabi Nagar Virasat Bachao Sangharsh Samiti said. “Court orders on public smoking, cellphone towers, ban on polythene continue to be flouted. Are court orders only to be enforced when it comes to temples?” it asked.
However, responding to criticism over its delayed reaction, RSS sources said the organisation was serious about dealing with the “state-sponsored destruction of Hindu heritage”.
“Last month, the Sangh was busy holding a training camp and so had deputed the Vishva Hindu Parishad to talk to the government,” an RSS source said.
“Once the training camp concluded, it was felt that the VHP had not been able to break any ground with the government so we decided to step in,” he said.
The RSS’s late response to the issue has also led to a perception in the state’s political circles that the organisation was using the temple issue to target Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, already on tremulous ground in the wake of the Lalit Modi controversy.
Raje is known to have had an uneasy equation with the RSS leadership in the state.
“People have not really protested against the demolition of these temples. If they had, the administration would not have been able to do it with such ease in the first place. The Sangh has found a ready opportunity in this issue to take on Raje,” a source in the BJP’s state unit told The Indian Express on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, the government said it was trying to convince the RSS to call off its proposed agitation.
“We will soon find a resolution through talks and mutual coordination,” Rajasthan Health Minister Rajendra Rathore said, while denying reports about party MLAs participating in the strike.
Meanwhile, calling the RSS’s campaign a violation of the Supreme Court orders, the Aam Aadmi Party in Rajasthan will be filing a contempt petition in the High Court against several BJP leaders and MLAs.
Mulk Raj Anand of AAP, who will be filing the petition, said that while the RSS did not do anything while the temples were being demolished, it had only raised this issue now to disturb communal harmony.