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|February 6, 2002||
The Rediff Interview/Acharya Giriraj Kishore
Senior Vishwa Hindu Parishad vice-president Acharya Giriraj Kishore is adamant about constructing the Ram temple in Ayodhya -- irrespective of the verdict of the courts. "Mandir wahin banega, chahe kuchh bhi ho jaye (The temple will be built at that very spot, come what may)," he thundered at a recent press conference in New Delhi.
In an interview with Tara Shankar Sahay, the acharya (guru) gave vent to his thoughts on the dispute and explained why the VHP is firm in its resolve to build the Ram temple.
Why is it that every time an election comes around, the VHP talks about construction of the Ram mandir?
The VHP has waited long enough. Now our patience is exhausted. You cannot go on toying with the sentiments of the majority community. Mandir nirman [construction of the temple] in Ayodhya should have been completed a decade ago, but the pseudo-secularists adopted diversionary tactics. We wanted to listen to what they had to say, but we realised that they were solely interested in delaying any settlement of the issue. We realised that they were merely playing for time. Now that some Muslim leaders are saying that they will not allow the temple to be built, we are equally determined that nobody can stop us from going ahead with the construction, not even the courts.
Your party's international president Ashok Singhal has said that he respects the court which has ruled that the status quo in Ayodhya will continue pending its decision.
Why are you forgetting that he [Singhal] has also pointed out that the courts are not competent to decide on matters of faith, and the construction of the Ram temple is a thoroughly emotional issues for Hindus not only in India but abroad? Secularism does not mean that you subvert and sabotage the interests of the Hindus to play Good Samaritan to Muslims for political considerations. We will not accept it, whichever form the pseudo-secularists may choose to project it.
So you are prepared to defy the courts?
We are saying that we respect them, but they are not competent to decide on matters of faith.
Do you agree with the statements of some of your VHP colleagues that any number of governments can be 'sacrificed' in your objective of building the temple in Ayodhya?
This government knows that we are determined to build the temple by March 12. We had warned it that nothing would stop us. Now our sants are talking to the prime minister. We want to give him time since he said he needs a little more time. But the deadline cannot be extended.
So how do you explain Bharatiya Janata Party President K Jana Krishnamurthy's categorical statement that in the changed circumstances, it is not possible to build the temple?
It is not for me to explain what X or Y or Z has said. I have made my views very clear.
Why has the VHP now raised the issue of the Shia community owning the disputed land in Ayodhya which it later allegedly handed to the Hindus?
These are historical facts. That's why we say that the dispute is not between Hindus and Muslims, but between us and the government. We have documents to prove this. The land belongs to the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas and the sooner everybody reconciles to it the better. [Shia] Nawab Wajid Ali Shah's wife, Begum Hazrat Mahal, gave the land to the caretaker who later, in exchange for land, handed over the disputed land to the Hindus. It is all there in the records.
Does the VHP realise that its hardened stand on Ayodhya could easily tear apart the secular fabric of India?
I told you, we have had an overdose of these pseudos whom you so fondly call secularists. These self-appointed secularists can no longer fool the Hindus who are aware of the elaborate plan to damage our religion and religious beliefs. Take it from me that our level of tolerance can be stretched no more. And those who come in our way will be pulverised.
The prime minister has referred to the law ministry the issue of examining whether land can be given (for temple construction) in Ayodhya. Do you see it as a diversionary ploy?
Atal Bihari Vajpayee asked for time and he has got it. Our Ram sevaks [devotees of Lord Ram] will be congregating in Ayodhya before March 12. I don't think the Ram sevaks will appreciate any more dilly-dallying in the construction of his temple. After that, the events will take their natural course.
Isn't it a fact that the Sangh Parivar, including the VHP, has the best chance of building the temple in Ayodhya under the Vajpayee government? Aren't you jeopardising this chance if your action dislodges the prime minister and his government?
We have warned the government many times that the Hindus' desire for construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya is a reality that cannot be postponed. We cannot wait for 50 or 100 years. You can replace a government, but not Ram.
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