Modi hasn't raised or encouraged the raising of slogans such as 'Jai Sri Ram' at public meetings. G Sreedathan reports
Claiming much of the credit for the election of a Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre, senior Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal said his organisation, along with other Hindu forces in the country, had achieved the objective of creating an "invincible Hindu society" with the installation of a regime that believed in Hindu swabhimaan, 800 years after the defeat of Delhi ruler Prithviraj Chouhan at the hands of "Muslim invaders".
As such, the comment rules out the previous NDA government, led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, as one that restored Hindu swabhimaan.
Singhal's comment, likely to kick up a nationwide row, was made on Friday at the World Hindu Congress, organised by the World Hindu Foundation, an affiliate of the VHP.
The comment is a contrast to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's emphasis on governance rather than Hindutva as the guiding principle of his government.
Modi hasn't raised or encouraged the raising of slogans such as 'Jai Sri Ram" at public meetings.
Without naming Modi, Singhal said the establishment of the new government should be a matter of "great pride" for Hindus, as after British rule, successive governments had neglected Hindu interests.
Recounting the alleged atrocities by these governments, he said one government (the one led by former prime minister Indira Gandhi) had ordered firing on an assembly seeking a ban on cow slaughter. "A previous government even told a court it was not sure whether Lord Ram was born in India at all," he said.
Singhal listed the demolition of the Babri Masjid as one of the VHP's achievements.
Delivering the keynote address for the Congress, Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama talked about compassion and the need for religious harmony. He said society had been overtaken by problems and turmoil because people had lost sight of the "oneness of humanity... faiths are also contributing to the troubles in society".
The Dalai Lama talked about the contribution of the Indus Valley civilisation to the world.
"The Hindu civilisation has produced some great thinkers. Buddhism became so rich because of the intellectual challenge posed by Hindu thought. Buddhism is indebted to Hinduism."
In a lighter vein, he said, "I often tell Indians: We are the chelas of ancient Indians, not the modern ones. The modern ones are more westernised."
The Tibetan spiritual leader called on Hindus to go beyond temples and ritualism and focus on "spirituality, logic, culture and other branches of human knowledge... I see temples on every corner of the road but there is no discussion or imparting knowledge. There is no scientific temper. Many branches of knowledge developed here. Eminent nuclear scientist late Raja Ramanna once told me he came across the concept of quantum physics in ancient Hindu scriptures. He said he had felt very proud. Indians had developed these profound concepts."
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader Mohan Bhagwat said, "Hindu is the one who sees unity in diversity. Hinduism, or the Indic tradition, can provide solutions to many problems faced by humanity. For that, Hindus should realise their power. Our work is not against anyone. While we celebrate the achievements of Hindus, we should not lose sight of their plight."
Speaking at the event, C V Wigneswaran, chief minister of Northern Province, Sri Lanka, talked about the difficulties faced by Hindus in that country.
Earlier, Singhal said the Dalai Lama had received many awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize, adding, "We are expecting the Bharat Ratna for him. Hopefully, he will get it."
Swami Vigyananand, the VHP leader who conceptualised the World Hindu Congress, said India's degeneration had started with "Islamic invasion". "Poverty and diseases such as malaria and cholera spread during the Muslim rule," he added.
Image: (From left) RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat; Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama; and VHP leader Ashok Singhal at the inauguration of the World Hindu Congress 2014 in New Delhi on Friday
Photograph: PTI Photo