Debating India

Ayodhya

Atal vows temple

Shivanand Shukla

Saturday 2 August 2003, by SHUKLA*Shivanand

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Friday expressed confidence that a Ram temple would be constructed in Ayodhya. Mr Vajpayee flew in to this temple town on Friday to attend the funeral of Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas chief Mahant Ramchandra Das Paramhans who passed away on Thursday.

"I am confident that hurdles would be removed and the path for temple construction would be cleared to build a Ram temple," the Prime Minister said, adding that he was expressing confidence in front of the Mahant’s ashes. Mr Vajpayee said he hoped that those opposing construction of a temple would eventually change their stance.

Paying glowing tributes to Paramhans, the main figure behind the temple movement, Mr Vajpayee said the Mahant was always attached to the idea of temple construction. "Once a temple is constructed all problems would be solved," the Prime Minister quoted the Mahant as having told him recently. "He worked for social unity and knew the problems that existed. He was confident there would be a solution. And now I am confident we will be able to fulfil his last wishes," Mr Vajpayee added.

Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani said that the real tribute to the departed Mahant would be construction of a Ram temple at the birthplace of Lord Ram. He pointed out that the Mahant’s struggle for temple construction began in 1949, adding the wish would be fulfiled. "No one can stop it," Mr Advani said, adding that it was also a wish of the nation which should be fulfiled. Pointing out that there were only three options - consensus, court decision or legislation - he said that consensus was the best way to resolve the issue.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief K S Sudarshan, who also attended the funeral, said that Mahant Paramhans knocked at the doors of various courts for 52 years but could not realise his dream. "Now the responsibility is on us. We should create an atmosphere so that no party could dare to object to construction of a Ram temple," he said. He called on people to take a pledge and ask the leaders whether they would build a temple. He recited a couplet from Ramcharitramanas while exhorting people to eschew those not loving Ram and Sita, like an enemy.

Other dignitaries who attended the funeral included Union Ministers Rajnath Singh and Murli Manohar Joshi, BJP president M Venkaiah Naidu, BJP Madhya Pradesh unit chief Uma Bharti, VHP working president Ashok Singhal, BJP Uttar Pradesh chief Vinay Katiyar, BJP in-charge of Uttar Pradesh affairs Kalraj Mishra and newly elected president of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas Nritya Gopal Das. All speakers at the ceremony spoke about the Mahant’s struggle and expressed the resolve to fulfil the last wish of the Mahant.

Earlier in the morning, Mahant Paramhans began his final journey through the streets of Ayodhya. The entire route was lined with people, craning their necks to get a last glimpse at the departed seer.

Slogans like Babaji ki antim iksha, puri hogi, puri hogi (The Baba’s last wishes shall be fulfiled) rent the air as the marigold-bedecked funeral palanquin with a conical canopy of golden brocade carrying the mortal remains of the Mahant in a sitting position was being taken through the streets of the temple town.

A large crowd of people thronged the river banks where the mortal remains of Mahant Pramhans were consigned to the flames.

Sree Vaishnav Das of the Digamber Akhara lit the funeral pyre at the Tulsighat off the Saryu river embankment amid chanting of Jai Shree Ram and Vedic hymns. Before this, Acharya Dharmendra of the VHP read a pledge to the Ram bhakts on fulfiling the incomplete wishes of the Mahant Paramhans.

P.S.

Picture: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and RSS leader K S Sudarshan at the cremation ceremony of Mahant Ramchandra Das Paramhans in Ayodhya on Friday - AP

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