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The Rediff Interview/Mahant Avaidyanath
September 17, 2003
Mahant Avaidyanath, the former Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Gorakhpur, now heads the Vishwa Hindu Parishad's committee for the proposed construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Avaidyanath says antagonists of the temple will have to play ball since time has run out for them after the Archaeological Survey of India report became known. The report said there was proof of a temple beneath the Babri Masjid that was demolished in 1992.
In this interview to Chief Correspondent Tara Shankar Sahay, he spoke about the VHP's determination to build the Ram temple.
Isn't the VHP losing credibility by repeatedly telling the government that its fight for construction of the temple in Ayodhya is a 'fight to the finish'?
The Ram temple in Ayodhya cannot be constructed in a week, a month or a year. There are so many hurdles that we have crossed but one thing is unambiguous. It will be built on its original site where the (Babri) dhancha (structure) existed.
The ASI report is clear. Reputed archaeologists have proved that the ancient temple was there. What does it mean? That it was demolished for the dhancha to come up. Therefore, those opposing the Ram temple have lost the ground on which they were arguing against it.
Now the situation is different and the Hindu masses have never been so ready for the temple of Ram lalla to come up. I think it will take at least five years to construct it. As far as we are concerned, we are simply voicing our resolve for temple construction again.
You talked of Hindu might in this context.
What's wrong with that? My point is Hindus are the majority community in this country. What I was saying (during the press conference on Sunday) was that if the government, before October 15, does not summon a special session of Parliament to enact a legislation to facilitate the construction of the temple in Ayodhya and hand over the land to the Ram Janambhoomi Nyas, the Hindus, who have reached the end of their tether, will explode.
That means they will march to Ayodhya in sheer numbers and agitate against the delay in temple construction.
Will there be violent undertones?
We want to build the temple peacefully, that is why we have repeatedly appealed to the concerned parties including Muslims that they should agree to it, especially in the light of the ASI report.
What if matters get out of hand?
It will not be because of us as we have already declared that we want to peacefully build the temple.
How is it that the timing of your agitation for the temple in Ayodhya coincides with elections?
So many years have passed since we began our movement for temple construction in Ayodhya. Elections come and go, so do governments. Our desire to build the temple is keener than ever before. Therefore, don't keep trying the patience of the Hindus interminably.
Why can't you wait for the court verdict on the Ayodhya issue?
How long are we going to wait? Now that the ASI report has come out, there is no room for dilly-dallying, no room for dubious questions, the kind the opponents of the temple movement, especially the secularists and the jihadis, are fond of raising.
What does the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh says about your movement?
It is fully supporting and cooperating with our movement for the Ayodhya temple. Senior RSS leader Mohan Bhagwat discussed the issue with us and gave us the go ahead.
Does that mean friction between the VHP-RSS combine on the one hand and the Bharatiya Janata Party on the other on the Ayodhya temple issue?
Keep politics out of it. We are determined for the temple in Ayodhya and the RSS is supporting us. Now the ball is in the government's court and so we will wait till October 15.
Why is the VHP apprehensive of Mulayam Singh Yadav becoming Uttar Pradesh chief minister?
We are not afraid of anyone. Last time (during the karseva by VHP, Bajrang Dal and associated activists in Ayodhya) it was his government that resorted to firing on our activists. I hope better sense will prevail on the UP government this time.
Is it for strategic reasons that Rambhakts will march to Ayodhya this time instead of kar sevaks if the government does not enact legislation for the temple?
Our intention is to peacefully construct the temple, that's why.
What prevents the VHP from going for a consensus on the Ayodhya issue?
We have done enough. Now it is for the government to build consensus.
Design: Uday Kuckian
The Rediff Interviews