Dalits to VHP: Appoint one Ram temple priest from communityhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat-dalits-vhp-appoint-one-ram-temple-priest-from-community-5462126/

Dalits to VHP: Appoint one Ram temple priest from community

At meeting in Ahmedabad, Dalits also demand appointing a priest from community as Shankaracharya, as demanded by Babasaheb Ambedkar

Dalits to VHP: Appoint one Ram temple priest from community
The demand was raised at a coordination meeting, organised by VHP’s Ahmedabad city president Jeetu Solanki, in Danilimda on November 21. (Representational Image)

Members of the Dalit community of Danilimda area of Ahmedabad city recently urged the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to pass a resolution to appoint at least one Dalit on the panel of priests, if and when the Ram Mandir is built in Ayodhya. The demand was raised at a coordination meeting, organised by VHP’s Ahmedabad city president Jeetu Solanki, in Danilimda on November 21.

The VHP plans to hold conventions across the country to press for its demand for a legislation to build the Ram temple in Ayodhya to be passed in Parliament. Accordingly, a virat dharma sabha has been planned for December 9 in Amraiwadi area of Ahmedabad. Preceding the event, the VHP and RSS are conducting coordination meeting with workers of their sister-organisations, which include BJP in different wards of Ahmedabad.

Around 100 people from various organisations such as the RSS, the VHP, the Bajrang Dal, and the BJP, among others, attended the meeting on November 21.

Hasmukh Sokhadia, an office-bearer of Ahmedabad BJP, who comes from a Dalit family, was present at the meeting. He said, “VHP’s Jeetubhai had called the meeting which was attended by me and around 100 people. In that meeting, a demand was put before them that, if we want samsarsta (harmony) in true spirit, then at least one priest from the Dalit community should be appointed in Ram Mandir (if and when it is built).”

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He said, “Some RSS leaders were also present at the meeting but they did not respond. Jeetubhai noted our demand.”

Another member of the Dalit community who took part in the meeting said, “We reiterated a demand of Dalits, which is similar to the one put forth by Dr B R Ambedkar to Hindu leaders — appointing a Dalit priest as Shankaracharya — before he (Ambedkar) shunned Hinduism and embraced Buddhism.”

At the meeting, Dalits also raised the issue that the pamphlets advertising the December 9 event did not bear the name of a single Dalit priest.

“There were names of many priests in the pamphlet. But it did not carry a single Dalit priest’s name. So we demanded that some Dalit priest’s name should also be included,” said another Dalit member of the BJP.

Confirming the demands, VHP’s Solanki, a Dalit himself, said that he had conveyed the feelings and demands to his higher-ups. “But, I think Dalit community is part of Hindu community. VHP is keeping all together. We cannot make a demand that priest of a particular community should be there,” said Solanki.

On the issue of pamphlets, Solanki said, “I think that demand is not proper. As priests do not belong to a particular community. I have conveyed their demands telephonically. My responsibility is of holding meetings and reporting. We are also going to meet on November 26 when I will again take up this point before our leaders (seeking their advice) if and what to say when such demands are raised,” Solanki further said.