EVEN as Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation for the Ram temple at Ayodhya on Wednesday, the celebrations at the headquarter of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in Nagpur remained relatively muted. With no senior RSS functionary in town, and Covid-19 restrictions in place, there was virtually no buzz at the sprawling Sangh building — as the RSS headquarter in the city’s Mahal area is known — when The Indian Express visited it during the foundation-laying ceremony. On the road outside the building, a large rangoli had been drawn and barricaded, with Jai Shri Ram inscribed on it.
Inside the building, however, there was no movement of any visitors. The building’s gate was lined by banana leaves, as per the Hindu tradition during festivities. Inside the premises, there were many other rangolis. There were rangolis depicting late Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader and one of the temple movement’s most strident architects, Ashok Singhal, and late RSS ideologue Moropant Pingle, believed to have been one of the strategists of the movement, drawn in a corridor leading to the building’s interior.
Even at the other major RSS building in the city, Smruti Mandir, there was no special activity. The annual RSS Dussehra and training camp valedictory functions are held on the sprawling ground in front of the building that houses samadhis of RSS founder K B Hedgewar and his successor M G Golwalkar.
Asked if flowers were put on the samadhis on the occasion, Nagpur city RSS chief Rajesh Loya asked, “Why do you think it should be done? Is this a special occasion for only the RSS? It is for the entire nation.”
At the residence of Union Minster Nitin Gadkari, a puja was held, along with recitations of Ramraksha Mantra and Hanuman Chalisa.
Asked about his feelings on the occasion, nonagenarian RSS ideologue M G Vaidya said, “For me, personally, this is an occasion of joy more than of pride. It’s time to forget all the bitterness of the past. Let’s see how Muslims see it.”
On whether the government should help in building the new Babri mosque, Vaidya said, “I don’t think so. They have been given five-acre land. That should be seen as the government’s contribution.”
Asked if the temple movement could now extend also to Kashi and Mathura, Vaidya said, “Muslims should voluntarily give them up to Hindus and the Hindus should then refrain from seeking any more such structures anywhere in the country.”
He, however, added, “This is my personal view. You should talk to RSS leaders for their official view on this subject.”
Elsewhere in the city, various intersections were decorated by the cultural wing of the RSS, Sanskar Bharati, with rangolis, saffron patakas and flags. Ramdhun and bhajans were also played at many city squares.
RSS and BJP followers marched in various localities, holding aloft saffron flags and shouting Jai Shri Ram slogans. Firecrackers were also burst throughout the day.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines