Mandir rhetoric back,but not so shrill this time

For the second day in a row on Saturday,BJP President Rajnath Singh kept the Hindutva quotient in his speech low...

Suman K Jha & Vivek Deshpandenagpur | Published:February 8, 2009 1:36 am

For the second day in a row on Saturday,BJP President Rajnath Singh kept the Hindutva quotient in his speech low,going no further than the age-old BJP plank of a Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.

“If we come to power with allies,we will take them into confidence and set up a fast-track court,if necessary. If we have the numbers to form the government on our own in future,we will ourselves build (the temple),with the help of a legislation if need be,” said Rajnath in his presidential address at the party’s national council meeting,after he had skipped Hindutva altogether in his inaugural speech at the party’s national executive here on Friday.

Significantly,the view is in consonance with the party’s prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani’s thoughts on the issue. He had recently told The Indian Express that “he was confident of a temple coming up at Ayodhya”,and that there were only three ways by which a temple could come up there (“by inter-faith dialogue,a court verdict,or a legislation”). “I would prefer that a temple is built at Ayodhya with the active participation of the Muslim community,that would go a long way in strengthening inter-community ties in the country,” he had said.

Rajnath’s written speech on Saturday,however,didn’t even mention the customary commitment to a temple at Ayodhya. But he made up for that by saying that “Ram Mandir was an issue of faith (shraddha aur nishtha) for the party.” The written text of his speech said it was unfortunate that the “UPA government didn’t spare even five minutes to resolve the Ram temple dispute”.

The BJP president’s climbdown on the Hindutva rhetoric on the eve of Lok Sabha election is apparent when compared to his speeches in the last two party national executive/council meets. In the party’s Bangalore meet last September,Rajnath had focused on three “symbols of Hindutva”. He had demanded “nationalisation of the track leading to Amarnath in the Valley”; asked various political parties “to help build a consensus to abrogate Article 370”; attacked the UPA government for “changing the logo of Kendriya Vidyalayas only because there was an inscription of lotus therein”,and argued that “dhramanirpekshta didn’t symbolise true secularism”.

In the Delhi national executive last January,he had spoken on “how Hindutva is the symbol of India’s culture and traditions”. “Those who dub Hindutva as a communal ideology should apologise to the nation,” he had said. He had also sought to draw a common thread through the issues of cultural nationalism,Ram Janmabhoomi,and the abrogation of Article 370.

Rajnath merely added that “the kind of contempt shown by the UPA government for our cultural symbols has never been seen before”.

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