The Vasundhara Raje-led government in Rajasthan is on a collision course with its ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, over demolition of several big and small temples in Jaipur over the past few months.
On Saturday, the RSS summoned nine BJP MLAs from Jaipur to its headquarters Bharati Bhawan, and asked them to explain their “inaction” over demolition of temples. RSS also slammed the government for overlooking “societal concerns”, calling its attitude worse than that of Mughal ruler Aurangzeb.
While most temples were demolished under the district administration’s drive against illegal structures, in line with Supreme Court orders, the recent demolition and relocation of six temples in the Walled City to make way for Jaipur Metro have proved to be the tipping point.
The metro project is expected to relocate seven more temples from the Walled City area.
To protest the demolitions, RSS and its affiliates have called a two-hour “chakka jam” on Thursday.
Following the RSS outburst, the state government sought a report from Jaipur Development Authority on the total number of temples razed.
RSS sources said there was a growing feeling within the Sangh that the state government, despite being led by the BJP with a full majority, was not sensitive to the concerns of the society.
“Mandir toote hain…samaj mein aakrosh hai…aur Sangh bhi to samaaj se he bana hai (temples have been demolished, there is anger in the society and the Sangh will reflect that),” Vivek Gupta of RSS said.
The Sangh’s displeasure was particularly triggered by the demolition of two centuries-old temples in the Walled City area to make way for Chhoti Chaupar Metro station last month. The Rojgareshwar Mahadev and Khasthharan Mahadev temples, said to be over two centuries old, were relocated elsewhere in consultation with the priests.
“The Metro corridor is being constructed using a tunnel boring machine and most temples won’t be disturbed. Six temples, however, had to be relocated from Chhoti Chaupar to build the station which can only be done using the cut-and-cover method. The relocation has been done after all rituals and in consultation with priests,” Jaipur Metro CMD Nihal Chand Goel said.
The district administration, on its part, has defended its decision citing the Supreme Court’s 2009 order on illegal religious structures. “This has nothing to do with a BJP or Congress government. Temples, mosques and other illegal religious structures on government land have been demolished following directions of the Supreme Court-appointed committee,” explained Shikhar Agarwal, commissioner, Jaipur Development Authority. Some 70 temples were razed during the last year , he said.
While development authorities claim to be following orders, the RSS holds the BJP government responsible. “We will decide on the future course of action depending on the state government’s response to the chakka jam,” Gupta said.
Raje has had a patchy relationship with the RSS leadership in the state. Ahead of the 2013 assembly polls, RSS had expressed its displeasure at Raje being nominated as the CM candidate.
BJP state president Ashok Parnami, however, is hopeful that the issue will be amicably resolved. “The party and the government is talking to Mandir Bachao Sangharsh Samiti which has called the chakka jam,” he said.