October 17, 2003

Ayodhya becomes Sangh’s Kurukshetra

The Telegraph, October 18, 2003

Ayodhya becomes Sangh’s Kurukshetra
- RSS admits ‘bitterness’ in parivar as outsmarted and isolated Singhal seethes

Ashok Singhal being arrested in Ayodhya. (AFP)
Oct. 17: When the thin film of dust lifted over Ayodhya this evening, Ashok Singhal stood alone in his sadhu’s clothes.

His ideological mentor, the RSS, stayed “neutral” and the BJP covertly sided with Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, who used the might of the state to reduce Singhal’s Ayodhya adventure to nothing more than a symbolic event.

In a rare admission in public to differences in the parivar, the RSS appealed to its progenies to end all “bitterness”.

“The bitterness among the Centre, the state government and various sections caused by the (VHP’s) programme should now be forgotten and a new beginning should be made,” RSS spokesman Ram Madhav said.

The lessons from the abortive sankalp sabha were not lost on the RSS. The Sangh’s image as the patriarch of the undivided Hindutva “parivar” was somewhat dented as its leaders betrayed signs of confusion on deciding which side of the Ayodhya fence it stood.

The Sangh offered the regulation “support” for the Ram temple construction, but it came with the rider that the VHP should do nothing to compromise the Centre’s position vis-a-vis the Uttar Pradesh government.

If the RSS fell between two stools, the BJP’s position was no better. Even today, VHP secretary Surendra Jain accused the Centre of “conniving” with Mulayam Singh in “repressing” “Ram bhakts”.

When Jain was levelling the charge, Mulayam Singh was offering thanks to the Centre for “extending the necessary help and maintaining the true traditions of the federal structure of the country”.

The paeans in public were hardly music to the BJP’s ears, especially as they came a day after party chief M. Venkaiah Naidu stressed that there was no “understanding” with the Uttar Pradesh chief minister.

The BJP is now awaiting the outcome of the year-end Assembly elections to gauge whether a seething VHP will be able to damage the party’s prospects and whether Hindutva will work as a plank.

Ayodhya today resembled not the battlefield of Lanka where Ram battled Ravan, but Kurukshetra of the Mahabharata, where brothers fought against each other.

The divide that runs through the parivar stood out in Ayodhya right from this morning. No high-profile parivar leader kept Singhal company when the saffron-robed leader was arrested in Karsevakpuram.

Notable absentees were Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Vinay Katiyar and Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas chief Mahant Nritya Gopal Das. Both were in Ayodhya but they stayed away from Singhal and his muted standoff.

Asked why Katiyar, who represents Ayodhya in the Lok Sabha, did not turn up, Singhal shot back: “I don’t need any Katiyar.”

Katiyar, camping in Ayodhya for the past two days, had said yesterday that he was not invited to the function. However, 24 hours later, he claimed that he was in constant touch with the people to ensure that situation did not worsen. “Everyone has his own role to play,” he clarified philosophically.

Mahant Das, considered a moderate, was negotiating with the district administration till yesterday to avoid a confrontation. However, when the negotiations failed, Das kept himself in the shadows.

Das, however, told The Telegraph that he could not go as he was told that police were arresting Ram devotees. Das had opposed the plan to organise the function in Ayodhya during the festival season since it posed a “lot of problems to businessmen and residents of Ayodhya”.

The lack of support from the people of Ayodhya was evident today. Most devotees who turned up today were from states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan.

But Singhal’s leadership was enough for the VHP and Bajrang Dal cadre to reassure themselves that they did not need a helping hand from the RSS or the BJP. “In the parivar, Singhal stands tall because he is senior in age to the present crop of RSS leaders like K.S. Sudarshan, Madan Das Devi and Mohanrao Bhagwat. He has consistently maintained his distance from the government and the BJP even on pain of displeasing the RSS, a parishad leader said.

“He has not compromised on Hindutva. While those in power may be scornful of his ideas and ideology, the next time the BJP wants to rake up the temple or another Hindutva issue, it will have neither the conviction or credibility,” he added. The VHP leader said the mantle would then fall either on Singhal or Praveen Togadia.

BJP sources grudgingly shared this assessment with a minister saying: “Singhalji ki baat to alag hai” (Singhal is a class apart).

While the Uttar Pradesh administration succeeded in lowering the pitch in Ayodhya and reducing the “sankalp sabha” to a ritual, the VHP claimed it had the “satisfaction” of exhibiting its own cadre strength and support mobilised independent of the RSS and the BJP.

October 15, 2003

Yahoogroups Hateful list against Praful Bidwai

The Hatefilled list run on groups.yahoo.com against Praful Bidwai, India's leading columnist

Advani intervenes, talks to Mulayam on VHP plan

Business Standard
October 16, 2003

Advani intervenes, talks to Mulayam on VHP plan
All trains restored to their original routes

Our Political Bureau in New Delhi
Published : October 16, 2003

In a curious turn of event, Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani called up Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and tried to persuade him to allow the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to hold their programmes in Ayodhya on October 17 as per schedule.

What was implicit in Advani’s conversation with Yadav was that the whole movement would lose its steam if not challenged.

Yadav, who was in Bhopal in connection with a political programmes, assured Advani that he would “get back” to him after discussing the issue with state officials.

Sources in the home ministry said Advani also tried to impress upon Yadav that it would set the stage for a confrontation if the VHP was not allowed to hold its functions and its activists were arrested.

According to sources, Yadav wants to avoid a confrontation with the VHP on the temple issue, but does not want to send across a message that he is dealing the issue with kid gloves on.

This consideration, the fear of being seen as soft on the Hindus, prompted Yadav not to make any commitments to Advani on the issue.

Advani took the cue from the statement of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who had said the VHP’s promise of holding the congregation peacefully should be taken at its word.

Advani’s move assumes significance in the context of serious criticism of Vajpayee and Advani by VHP general secretary Praveen Togadia.

Though Vajpayee is learnt to have expressed his anguish over the language used by the VHP against the government, Advani’s decision to deal directly with the state government is aimed at mollifying the moderate group in the Sangh Parivar.

This became evident after RSS chief KS Sudershan also asked the VHP to exercise restraint during its Ayodhya programmes.

There was a general feeling in the government that if VHP activists were allowed to hold their programmes, it would take the sting out of their programme.

Sources in the government said all trains running through Faizabad, which had been diverted earlier, had been restored to their original routes.

With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other constituents of the Sangh Parivar staying away from the Ayodhya programmes, the October 17 rally is expected to be tame affair.

With five Assembly elections around the corner, the BJP does not want to be seen as opposing the VHP on the issue.

In what appears to be a coincidence, VHP’s international vice-president Acharya Giriraj Kishore was arrested in Lucknow while addressing VHP activists.

Immediately, after the arrest of VHP activists and Kishore, the BJP criticised the Yadav government. “This was uncalled for,” said BJP general secretary Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

At the same time, Togadia displayed an uncharacteristic restraint while addressing a VHP rally in deference to dictats from the Sangh Parivar, which seems to have intervened effectively.

The rally was a lack-lustre affair. Togadia also focused his speech on the VHP’s objective of constructing a Ram temple. Unlike the past, he did not warn the government of serious consequences, if the VHP’s programmes were stalled.

No written guarantee for peace: VHP


No written guarantee for peace: VHP
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi | October 15, 2003 20:01 IST

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad on Tuesday refused to give a written guarantee to the Union government that its October 17 sankalp (resolve) rally in Ayodhya will be peaceful.
Thousands of Ram bhakts, as the VHP calls them, have been gathering in the twin towns of Ayodhya and Faizabad this week to resolve to build a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya.

Also see: Paramilitary forces surround Karsevakpuram
Several thousand VHP activists have been detained in various parts of Uttar Pradesh, where Mulayam Singh Yadav's government sees a sinister design in the VHP rally to disturb the temple town's peace.
VHP spokesman Vireshwar Dwivedi told reporters in New Delhi: "Union Minister of State for Home Swami Chinmayanand spoke to VHP general secretary Pravin Togadia on Tuesday and perhaps asked for a written undertaking that the Ram bhakts will remain peaceful.
"When Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani have not been able to give a written undertaking that they will bring about peace in Jammu and Kashmir, how can a social organisation like the VHP give such a guarantee concerning our programme in Ayodhya?"
Also see: Avoid confrontation, Advani tells Mulayam
Dwivedi warned that if Ram bhakts were harassed, they will respond in an appropriate way.

Asked what if this entailed violence, Diwedi said it would be 'even-handed.'

"We are not satisfied with the central government's arrangements in Ayodhya. About 1. 75 lakh Ram bhakts have been kept in inhuman conditions...they must be treated in a dignified way," he said.

Dwivedi said around 45,000 Ram bhakts led by Swami Vasudevananda Saraswati have left for Ayodhya from Prayag to participate in the October 17 rally.

On VHP vice-president Giriraj Kishore's arrest in Lucknow by the state administration, Dwivedi said it is a matter of concern that he has not been allowed to talk to the media.

The VHP spokesman asserted that VHP activists will take part in the rally in large numbers come what may.

VHP issues a long list of mosques

The Hindu, October 15, 2003

VHP issues a long list of mosques

By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, Oct. 15. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has distributed a tabloid - Abhay Bharat - carrying a long list, spread over seven pages, of "mosques" in 10 States which it claims were built during the Mughal period and earlier on sites where "temples were destroyed".

The list included over 70 mosques, monuments and tombs in Delhi, including the Qutb Minar, the famous Nizamuddin Aulia Dargah and the 15th century Bada Gumbad Masjid in Lodi garden.

Surendra Jain, the VHP secretary and a former president of the Bajrang Dal, said that "at present we are not making claims on these mosques." For the moment the VHP had demanded that Muslims "return" the sites at Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi.

October 14, 2003

No central curbs on Ram bhakts, says BJP

The Hindustan Times
October 15, 2003

No central curbs on Ram bhakts, says BJP
HT Correspondent
New Delhi, October 14

The BJP on Tuesday decided that no trains heading for Faizabad and Ayodhya would be stopped or diverted to prevent VHP volunteers from participating in the October 17 Sankalp Sammelan after several meetings between RSS and BJP leaders.

The RSS leadership appealed to Prime Minister AB Vajpayee and his deputy LK Advani not to stop trains to Ayodhya, which would cause hardship to the people there.

The BJP leaders came round to the view that cancelling or diverting trains to Ayodhya would "unnecessarily" bring a bad name to the BJP-led central government, especially given the fact that the VHP had accused the Centre of being "anti-Hindu".

While RSS chief KS Sudarshan spoke to Vajpayee on Monday, senior leader Madan Das Devi met him on Tuesday and drew his attention to the restrictions imposed on the movements of VHP leaders and workers despite their having said the October 17 programme would be peaceful and limited to a darshan of the Ram idols in the makeshift temple at Ayodhya.

"We are confident that the programme will pass off peacefully and there will be no confrontation. It will be a democratic protest," said RSS spokesman Ram Madhav, after holding discussions with Advani on Tuesday. But he warned that though the Sangh Parivar would make all attempts to ensure peace, the situation could go out of hand if the UP government continued its repression of Ram bhakts.

Sudarshan's discussion with Vajpayee followed VHP leader Praveen Togadia's complaint to the Sangh Parivar leadership that the VHP was facing serious difficulty in sending its workers to Ayodhya because of the "joint action" by the UP government and the Centre.

Minister of State for Home Swami Chinmayananda will coordinate with the VHP to ensure that the programme passes off peacefully.

Delhi works on defuse-Ayodhya deal Parishad signals venue shift

The Telegraph
October 15, 2003

Delhi works on defuse-Ayodhya deal Parishad signals venue shift


‘Ram sevaks’ board a train for Ayodhya at Ahmedabad. (Reuters)
New Delhi, Oct. 14: Under pressure from the RSS and the VHP, the Centre has informed Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav that it would not be possible to divert trains passing through Faizabad-Ayodhya ahead of the VHP congregation on October 17.

Home ministry sources said Mulayam Singh has been told to use central forces deployed in the region “judiciously and selectively to deal only with law and order problems” and not to “harass” the “Ram bhakts” coming to Ayodhya.

As a quid pro quo, the VHP is believed to have assured the RSS that it was considering shifting the venue of its sankalp sabha (oath-taking meeting) to the Ram Sevak Puram complex, which is a “safe” 3 km away from the Ramjnamabhoomi-Babri complex.

The original plan was to assemble at the “disputed” site from where the “Ram bhakts” were to chant Ram dhun and take a pledge to construct the temple.

On the Centre’s behalf, sources said, the RSS was prevailing on the VHP leaders to also see to it that the “Ram bhakts” offered prayers at the Ram Lalla temple in small groups.

Swami Chinmayanand, the minister of state for home, was tasked to deal with the VHP and its clergy in his capacity as a former member of the temple steering committee.

After Chinmayanand learnt of the possible climbdown in the VHP’s stance, he advised its leaders to seek the administration’s permission so that there would be no hitch in holding the meeting in the new venue because prohibitory orders were in force in Faizabad district.

Mulayam Singh is learnt to have assured Chinmayanand that he would have no problem in granting the VHP permission if it kept its word and did not break into the “disputed” area.

A day after VHP leader Praveen Togadia accused the Prime Minister of colluding with Mulayam Singh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee went into a huddle with deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, finance minister Jaswant Singh and BJP president M.Venkaiah Naidu.

They assessed Togadia’s warning that communal riots could erupt if the “Ram bhakts” were stopped on their tracks.

RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan spoke to Vajpayee last evening, urging the Prime Minister not to divert the trains and arrest the “Ram bhakts”. Sudarshan also sought the release of those kept in detention.

“If these demands are fulfilled, he assured the Prime Minister that the VHP’s programme would pass off peacefully,” an RSS source said.

“But if they are not and something untoward happens, the Uttar Pradesh government will have to shoulder the responsibility,” he added.

With the VHP working president Ashok Singhal and his deputy, Acharya Giriraj Kishore, going “underground”, Chinmayanand was in touch with Ramjnamabhoomi Nyas chairman Nritya Gopal Das and the convener of the high-powered Uchchadhikar Ram Mandir Nirman Samiti, Mahant Avaidyanath. Both are camping in Ayodhya.

Chinmayanand reportedly told Mulayam Singh that it was not possible to divert the trains because of the large traffic of pilgrims to Ayodhya and the inconvenience a diversion would cause to traders in the “peak” business season.

Sources close to him said his line of reasoning with the VHP was that Uttar Pradesh traders would not take kindly to disruptions during Diwali and, if there were any, “these would be counterproductive for the temple movement”

RSS sings VHP tune, warns of violence

The Times of India, October, 14 2003

RSS sings VHP tune, warns of violence

NEW DELHI: The RSS on Tuesday echoed the VHP's threat of communal riots, though on a softer tone. A day after VHP General Secretary Praveen Togadia threatened communal riots, the RSS spokesman Ram Madhav said he apprehended violence.
"The atmosphere could turn foul (vatavaran bigad sakta hain) if the state government represses the VHP activists. We don't want to create problems but the state government would be held responsible for violence" said Madhav.
Over the last two days, the RSS leadership has been in close consultation with the government. The RSS chief KS Sudarshan, leaders HV Seshadri and others have been in touch with Prime Minister Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani. And Madhav met Advani on Tuesday to apprise him of the VHP's complaints of activists getting detained in railway stations and trains diverted. Apparently, some RSS workers have been kept under preventive detention in UP.
The RSS argument is that the UP government has been asked by the Lucknow High Court only to maintain law and order and not to arrest the VHP activists.

The court ordered: "This court expects that the state government and district administration as also the authorised person will pass necessary orders to regulate the behaviour of the crowd and not to allow any congregation on or around the disputed site and further they shall not permit any religious activity of any kind by any one, either symbolic or actual to take place at or around the disputed site."
When pointed out that the government in order to restrict a congregation at Ayodhya would have to stop the activists from reaching Ayodhya, Madhav said: "Let the state government stop the people from gathering there, but nobody can be stopped from worshiping the Ram idol."
The court has only allowed the 'usual puja and darshan' and has specifically ordered "large number of persons should not be allowed at one point of time in or around the disputed site... religious and non-religious not to issue any statement pertaining to the ASI report or interpret or twist it to suit his interest..."
Though the court has clearly ordered no congregation at the disputed site where the Ram idol is kept, the Parivar has announced 'trouble and violence' if its activists are arrested or turned away from Ayodhya.
Madhav tried to temper the VHP's frontal attack against the government by claiming that the Central forces have been called by the UP government and that the Central government has assured the Sangh of all support.
According to senior Parivar leaders, the march is aimed at energising the Parivar cadre and to mobilise them ahead of the elections. And a certain amount of confrontation with the state government would only help the Parivar gain in credibility in UP where it was in power for some time now -- first directly and then in an alliance with the BSP.

October 12, 2003

[Hindutva] Protests mark shooting of ‘Bride and Prejudice’

The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Protests mark shooting of ‘Bride and Prejudice’
Aishwarya shoots in ‘old house’ amid security
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, October 4
Protests marked the first day of shooting by Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai on the sets of Indo-British production “Bride and Prejudice” here today.

Activists of the Bajrang Dal and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) burnt the effigy and shouted slogans against film director Gurinder Chadda in the busy Hall Bazaar area, protesting against the shooting here. They alleged that the film would exhibit “improper and vulgar” scenes that were against Indian and Punjabi cultural values and would adversely affect the perception of the Holy City the world over.

Mr Rakesh Madaan, state activist of the dal, gave a memorandum to the Amritsar Deputy Commissioner demanding a halt to the shooting of the film. They also demanded that the Censor Board of India should ban the movie.

PHOTO: Activists of the Bajrang Dal and the VHP burn the effigy of film director Gurinder Chadda in Amritsar on Saturday. — Photo by Rajiv Sharma.

October 09, 2003

Business Standard, October 9, 2003
The networked Brahmin
S Gurumurthy’s world-view is heavily influenced by his rural Brahminical roots, discovers Sanjay K Pillai over a frugal meal of fruit

Published : October 7, 2003

The 54-year-old convener of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), S Gurumurthy has contacts any journalist would die for. Yet he chooses to wield his power as unobtrusively as possible.

Name almost any current controversy in the corporate world or in policy-making, and, true or false, this slightly-built almost nondescript chartered accountant with thinning hair is always rumoured to have a role to play — as mediator, negotiator, Devil’s advocate, whatever.

He was recently in the news for playing an unlikely go-between in the Bajaj family battle. He’s behind the scenes in the skirmish over foreign accounting firms’ so-called backdoor entry into India. He’s the man who has remained a resolute critic of the Reliance group.

Naturally, then, he treats all journalists with a deep-rooted suspicion, especially ones who invite him out for lunch. “I am a Brahmin from a village who has lunch in the morning. Why do you want to meet me? There are a lot of rakshashas out there who want to see me finished, are you one of them?” Two statements and two questions — all for asking him out for lunch.

I assure him I am not one of the rakshashas and my mission is not liquidatory in nature but constructive. “We want to capture the essence of Gurumurthy as a person,” I tell him. As we speak I realise that Gurumurthy is not parsimonious with words and lunch would be a very interesting affair, if only he would agree.

Some convincing later, he agrees and tells me that I should call him in the morning on the appointed day and fix a venue. The appointed day, morning, I call him. True to style he informs me that he will not have lunch but will be more than willing to have fruit.

“Meet me at my office at 12.30 and since I am only having fruit we can go to the Taj,” he says. I heave a sigh of relief; earlier he had been insistent that he would go to a place where non-vegetarian fare was neither served nor cooked, and I hardly knew many good places like that in Chennai.

Just to ward off any hunger pangs I might feel at lunch, I also become Brahminical in my approach and have an early 11.45 meal. At 12.30, I am at “Guru & Ram”, his modest office in Nungambakkam, the heart of the city.

He is going away for two days to attend an SJM meeting at Palani, a famous temple town in the state, and the train tickets are waitlisted. A couple of calls, tickets confirmed, we head out for the two-minute drive to the Taj Coromandel.

He drives a Maruti Esteem and as I sit beside him I ask him what he thinks of the traffic situation. “These are the effects of westernisation. We do not have enough roads but the cars keep rolling out,” he points out.

I protest and point out that bigger and better roads are being laid, but the point is never finished as we motor into the portico of the hotel. We choose to go to “Southern Spice”, the lobby-level south Indian restaurant and the hostess gives us a table where we would be left undisturbed.

Since we have decided that lunch will be a fruity affair, he settles for a fresh pineapple juice while I settle for a decidedly more lavish fruit punch.

To get the conversation going, I ask him how a person from a village near Villupuram town, about 150 kms from Chennai ended up being a chartered accountant.

“I wanted to be a lawyer, but there was this anti-Brahmin agitation of the DMK. In fact, I never even tried to become a lawyer. When I approached my relations for guidance, they laughed and said that I would be foolish even to try getting admission. Instead, I came to Chennai and I joined Vivekananada college,” he informs me.

By then it is dawning on me that he still does not trust my intentions fully. It is confirmed when he suddenly asks me whether I intend to insult him when I write the piece. I tell him my that it would be a sacrilege to insult a guest and my intentions were honourable.

He’s partially mollified. “Very rarely can people humiliate me. We came up with nothing and there was a time when I attended school when the family could not afford one square meal. Faith in God has helped a lot in ensuring that just because we came from a poor family I did not grow up hating the rich. When we grew up, I have been abused enough, and I realise that abuse is just a substitute for beating.”

Point made, I ask him whether his views on the need for family businesses to stay together are dictated by his own family of four brothers staying together. “We shared poverty together and there is no reason for us not to share the good times together,” he says.

What about his views on Hinduism? The question immediately gets him passionate and elicits some interesting if controversial observations.

“Society is an open-air university. Are you willing to be a student, is the question. I have unlearnt most of what I learnt in college. I have understood that today education makes you feel low about your own country because it is western education. Even the word secular is bequeathed to us, courtesy Christianity.”

Secular, he explains, is Christian purely because it is an exclusive religion like Islam. Hinduism is not secular because it is an inclusive religion like none else, he points out. “Who welcomed the Jews, Christians, Muslims — it was us. Then they tell us we have to be secular. There is no bigger joke than this.”

“Christianity and Islam both preach hatred to other religions. The Christian faith has been smashed by democracy and technology. But Islam is a frozen ideology and the problem is that it has not seen any ideological clash since the Prophet. If there has been any clash, it only has ensured that it has become more inward looking.”

All this has gotten me thirsty and while I order another fruit punch along with a plate of baby corn in pepper, he settles for a fruit salad.

And how different is Hinduism, I ask him. “Hinduism is open to interpretations from all sides. We are not secular. Hinduism is sacred, where we learn to protect what is around in our environment. The absolute was never named and that is why Hinduism has 33 crore gods,” he tells me.

The dose of Hinduism over, I ask him about the diatribes he waged against Rajiv Gandhi, through his columns in the Indian Express. This elicits a most unexpected reaction.

“Rajiv was definitely a good man, a nice man. The only problem was that he did not know how to position himself as a politician. He claimed that his party was corrupt, while he was not. This was a wrong move. The Bofors issue was based on corruption, and the same charge would not have stuck on Indira Gandhi. She never claimed she was honest.

“When Ramanathji told me that Rajiv was the man who would rule India for the next 20 years, I disagreed because Rajiv had claimed that he was honest. Once you enter politics, you have to compromise and Rajiv’s claim about being honest was something he should not have made.”

So what did he think about the man who replaced Rajiv as prime minister? “The less said about V P Singh the better. Here was a prime minister who refused to visit the displaced Kashmiri Pundits, who had become refugees in their own country.”

“I told him so many times, please go see them in Delhi. But he just won’t because it was politics for him. There was ethnic cleansing happening in our country, and here was V P Singh, the prime minister, refusing to acknowledge it. Rajiv was infinitely better than V P Singh.”

And, of course, there is his famous enmity to Reliance. How does he react to his famous comrade-in-arms Arun Shourie’s about-turn on Reliance? For once Gurumurthy is diplomatic. “I have not changed my views on Reliance. Arun has every right to change his opinion.”

What dictates Gurumurthy’s actions then? “Dharma and the country. Most of my activities are governed and guided by love for this great country. I am a missionary in her cause.”

So why don’t you join politics, I pose to him. “Mahatma Gandhi said that Brahmins should never join politics and as I said, politics makes everyone compromise. I will not compromise.”

What about the SJM then? “The SJM is an opinion- making, confidence-building organisation. I am the convener and I do not get elected. The relevance is shifting to non-political religious organisations like Mata Amritanandamayi’s organisation. They are the ones that create opinions. Not newspapers. Newspapers have become prostitutes,” he says.

I feel constrained to protest the strong words he has used, but Gurumurthy stands his ground. He points out that today the newspaper industry is exploited and compromised. “There might be exceptions but the media has become very corrupt,” he says.

So how would the chartered accountant describe himself? “I am not a typical chartered accountant. I do not do anything that a normal chartered accountant would do. I would like to think of myself as a counsellor, a consultant. People come to me with trust and some of them respect me. The Tatas and Birlas know that I cannot be bought over and they respect me for that.”

The fruit disappears from the table and lunch is over. As we walk out of the hotel for the short drive back to his office, his mobile rings. “Why don’t you speak to Jaswant,” he tells the caller. Just another confirmation of how well networked the once-poor Brahmin is.

October 08, 2003

Test of Address by RSS top boss "Sarsanghchalak Shri. K.S.Sudarshan"
delivered on Vijaya Dashami 04-10-2003 at Nagpur

We are celebrating our annual function. Today is Navami (ninth day of Lunar month), traditionally celebrated as the day of worship of Shakti and Shastra–strength and weapons–from ancient times. There is no need to respond to futile questions like ‘what is the need for the country to accumulate strength’ etc. It is universally accepted that it is through strength that the society is sustained.

Vijayadashami is celebrated as a commemoration of the victory of Lord Ram over the intrepid and powerful demon Ravan who happened to be a Brahmin too. Ravan had all lethal powers at his disposal and the entire mankind–Gods and Demons including–was under his subjugation. But finally who humbled him? It was those whom unfortunately we call ‘janglee’ (forest-dwellers), who possessed nothing else but only stones and trees as their weapons; it was by mobilizing those vanaras (monkeys) that Ram had conquered Ravan. Ravan’s physical strength couldn’t stand up to this strength of unity of vanaras. Finally it was Ravan who was defeated, not Bharatiya society, its Dharma and traditions.

Lord Ram is the epitome of all those noble virtues and ideals that the Bharatiya society, dharma and tradition represent.

Maharshi Valmiki had immortalized these ideals for the first time through the story of Ramayana. In fact Valmiki’s personal life

is a shining example of how Lord Ram would transform an ordinary mortal into a beacon for the mankind. But the irony is, the descendents of that great saint–the Valmiki community–has been relegated into untouchable community today. How did it happen? In fact the people of Valmiki samaj were originally from warrior class. Some historians maintain that the Islamic invaders used to place two options before the vanquished Hindu warriors; accept Islam or work as scavengers cleaning their toilets. While many so-called upper caste people opted for Islam, these warriors demonstrated their uncompromising commitment to their religion by opting for the mean jobs rather than giving up their religion. In all the excavations at ancient sites like Mohanjodaro, Lothal, Kalibangan etc we come across remains of bathrooms, playgrounds and other things, but no where do we find any remains of lavatories. It is clear that in those days people used to go out to open fields or nearby forest for easing out. The practise of scavenging came into being only at the time of Muslim rule, because the Muslim women couldn’t go out of their houses due to the practice of burqua (veil). Instead of bestowing them with the highest honour, tragically the Hindu society chose to accord them the lowest place only.

One finds the same clan names in the Valmiki samaj today that are found in the so called upper castes too, like Chouhan, Gahlot, Kacchavaya Rajput, Chandel, Pawar, Vaidya etc. This abominable practise of carrying the human excreta on the head should be given a go by immediately at least now. We can mechanise this practice and give the status of technicians to the people involved in this activity.

An inspiring incident from the life of Sri Ramanujacharya needs a mention here. As a youngman he was circumambulating the temple one day when he suddenly saw a cobbler-women in front of him. Infuriated, he screamed: “Get aside, O woman, do not defile my hallowed path”. The woman very reverentially posed a question to him: “O holy one, every place is filled with sacredness. Where shall I take this impure body?” Her straight and simple words went straight into the heart of the Acharya and wisdom dawned upon him. He said: “O Mother, please pardon me. He who is filled with nothing but impurity will see impurity everywhere. Your inner heart is filled with purity and therefore you are seeing purity around”.

How he imbibed it in his life is shown by another incident of his old age. While going to the river for bath he used to lean on the shoulders of two Brahmin youths while on the return he used to take the support of the shoulders of two cobblers. Enraged at this, some people asked him: “O Holy man! What is the use of your bathing if you take the support of the cobblers after the bath?” The Acharya coolly replied ñ “O Salvation seekers! He who preaches to curb ego must first conquer his own ego. Our body becomes clean by bathing. But minds ego will go away only when become one with the lowliest. Hence after making my body pure, I take the support of the Shudras to cleanse my mind’s ego”.

The RSS has, from the beginning, been striving to ameliorate Hindu society above the differences of caste, creed, sect, state, language etc and mould it into a united society. Sangh believes in the dictum that the strength of a chain lies in its weakest link. Similarly the strength of a society lies in its weakest section, because if society disintegrates, it will be through that weakest section only. Such efforts to disintegrate our society are on by those religions which believe in proselytisation and which have not been able to integrate with the cultural stream of this land. Unfortunately many political parties are busy in their vote-bank politics and extending patronage to their separatism, turning a blind eye to the threat to nation’s unity and integrity through proselytisation. Our Chief Guest of the day also tried to attract our attention towards it.

Last year Madhya Pradesh Government has published a ‘Bhopal Declaration’ titled “The strategy for 21st century to build up future of Dalits”. The Chief Minister sri Digvijay Singh wrote preface to this Document. He claims that the “Dalits do not have any written history of theirs. Both Dalits and Vanvasis, who together constitute 25 crores of the population of our country, are in search of their history”. Being the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, he should at least have known how Rani Durgavati had fought the Mughals and attained martyrdom. Did he not remember the history of Tantiya Bheel? Pazhshi Raja in Kerala; Jadonang and Rani Gaidinlieu in Nagaland; Teerath Singh in Meghalaya; Birsa Munda in Bihar; Baburao Sadmek in Vidarbha; the Ramoshis under the leadership of Vasudev Balvant Phadke in Maharastra had all faught with the British. All these are glorious epochs of our freedom struggle. All those struggles were waged as an integral part of the vast Hnidu society only. But the Chief Minister doesn’t want to see them as part of the Hindu society. How can he create a vote bank of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes without promoting a sense of alienation in their minds! In the same Bhopal Document, of which he penned the preface, the authors make the following comments; “Unless the Dalits completely come out of the Hindu fold, no struggle for emancipation can ever be won”; “The ideal of Dalit movement should be carried out under the leadership of Christians”. Some Church sponsored elements, who had attended the Dalit Conference in Bhopal on 12–13 January 2002, have been running similar campaign for long. It has been their sinister motive to alienate the so-called Dalit section from the Hindu society so as to facilitate their conversion to Christianity. But what is significant is the open support of State Government of Madhya Pradesh to these elements. It highlights the fact that the Government is least bothered about looming terrible consequences for the society in its petty political gamble for mean electoral gains.

It is an open secret that the State Government of Madhya Pradesh is hand-in-glove with the Church in that State. Last year, on 17th January, a massive Hindu Sammelan of the Janjatis of Jhabua and Dhar districts was organized at Jhabua. More than 2 lakh Janjati brethren had attended this Sammelan. The Seva Bharati had actively worked for 3 years in that region to make this Sammelan a success. They had opened 242 ekal vidyalayas (single-teacher schools); contacted 3 lakh Janjati families and distributed lockets with pictures of Shivaji and Hanuman to over 28 lakh Janjati men and women leading to a massive religious awakening in the Janjati areas. Jhabua is considered a Congress citadel. The Chief Minister had left no stone unturned to ensure that people don’t attend this Sammelan. But they made it clear to him that it was a matter of their religion and they would attend it by all means. Sammelan was a massive success. But after that, terror has been let

loose on the Seva Bharati activists by foisting false cases on them. However, the Courts have rejected almost all allegations and honourably acquitted all the activists. It is clear that the awakening in the Janjati sections of that region has convinced the Congress people that their vote banks stand shattered now. It is out of revenge that the Congress is taking recourse to these terror tactics.

Centre for Policy Studies, Chennai has produced a thesis after a 26–27 year painstaking research named “Religious Demography of India”. This thesis explains the ill effects of religious conversions. It analyses changes in the religious demography in the sub-continent occurred in the 110 years starting from the first ever census undertaken in 1881 to the census of 1991. It indicates that taking India, Bangladesh and Pakistan as one block, the population of Hindus in this region has dwindled from 79.32% to 68.03%–a fall of around 11%–during that period. During the same period, while the Muslim population has increased from 20% to 30%- a 10% rise, the Christian population has risen from 0.7% to 2%. The study concludes that if the demographic trends continue in the same manner, the Hindus will become a minority in their own land by year 2060. History bears testimony to the fact that wherever Hindus have become a minority that part has either seceded from Bharat or become perpetual headache for the country. Kashmir and North East are standing examples of it. It is essential that we be extremely vigilant over all the efforts to divide Hindu society.

How far is it appropriate to call a section of our own people Dalits? In fact, the first and foremost task should be to instill self-confidence in the people in the lowest rung so that they can climb up the development ladder. Those driven by political self-interest can’t instill this self-confidence. It is not even possible to achieve it through political power. We believe that it has to be accomplished by the society on its own and the social and religious leadership should trigger this change. In Kerala, castes like Ezhavas and Pulayas used to be considered untouchables. Especially the Pulayas used to be considered so degraded that if they brought vegetables from the market, they had to be deposited at the doorsteps of the houses and allowed to be taken in only after a Muslim or a Christian touched those vegetables. This is what prompted Swami Vivekananda to call Kerala a “lunatic asylum”. Where is the question of such people getting entry into the temples! But from the same Ezhava community sprang up Narayana Guru, who, without creating any ill-will against other communities, encouraged setting up of separate temples for their community, promoted cultural education in the community and kick-started such a massive self-confidence in that community that today it has left the rest of the entire society far behind and surged ahead in economic well-being.

Similarly in Punjab, the Jats used to be considered the lowest rung of the society. Guru Nanakdev and the Guru tradition had acquired them equal status in the society. Today, they are creating wonders not only in India but also all over the world as industrious community. The Ramghadia community of Punjab has played a significant role in the industrial revolution in that State. Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar started his journey in a hostile

social environment. With courage and conviction he queered his own pitch and reached the zenith of our social life. His life became a source of inspiration in firing the self-respect among the Mahars living at the lowest rung of the society at that time. He motivated them towards self-emancipation while preventing them from alienating from the cultural mainstream of the country. The Sangh is also involved in the efforts to awaken pride in our rich cultural heritage in all sections of the society. It is striving to eradicate several evils that have crept into our social life during the 800-year foreign yoke. Swami Vevakanand had described the people of this country as ‘immortal sons’. ‘You may have faith in 330 million Gods and Goddesses, but there is no salvation to you unless you have faith in yourself’, he exhorted. The Sangh wants to awaken this self-confidence in all sections of our society.

Two years ago, in the same Vijayadashami function, questions like Indianisation of Islam and Swadeshi Church were discussed. Many nationalist Muslims and Christians have welcomed it and initiated concrete steps in that direction too. Recently in Delhi, under the auspices of an organization called “my Hindustani”, 126 Muslim representatives from 9 States of our country have assembled. 31 came from J&K alone while 26 came from Rajastahan and 13 from Maharastra. There were 18 women and 38 Mulla-Moulvis among the participants. Senior bureaucrats, academicians, businessmen and social activists have actively participated in the two-day deliberations and passed four resolutions. One resolution called for immediate ban on cow slaughter. It was reiterated that while some people are trying to stall it in the name of religion, Islam doesn’t say anything about it. In view of the fact that cow protection assumes utmost importance in an agrarian country like ours, the initiatives taken by the Government in this direction were whole-heartedly welcomed. It extended full support and cooperation to the efforts to bring in a legislation banning cow-slaughter.

The second resolution advocated for legal and constitutional umbrella for social uplift of Muslim Women. It called for appropriate laws in all States making registration of marriage and divorce mandatory; a ban on oral talaq and enactment of Common Civil Code. The third resolution condemned terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir in the name of Jehad in strongest terms and called upon the Government to adopt stringent measures to curb it. The fourth resolution demanded free education for Muslim girls from primary to higher education level; a short term vocational training programme for Muslim girls and boys engaged in handicrafts and arts; and modernistion of Madrassas.

Similarly the nationalist Christians of Kerala have drawn attention to the fact that long before the advent of the Portuguese a national Church had already been established in the Indian cultural milieu. While an imperialist Church order had taken roots in the Churches of Middle East and Europe under the influence
of the Raman Empire, a totally indigenous Church had evolved in India which was not only in total consonance with the Bharatiya worldview but was fully democratic in nature. Cooperation of the Indian Govt. and compatriots is being sought in the struggle to reestablish it. The RSS welcomes all such developments that strengthen our nationalism and foster a feeling of love and fellow-feeling among the different religious groups in the country.

The British had, in order to create discard in the national society, floated many misconceptions, one of which was the concept of majority and minority. Our leaders had, without applying their minds, accepted it as it were, resulting in sowing of seeds of fresh conflict in the name of minority rights. Let us raise the fundamental question as to who should be called a minority? In reality Minorities are those who migrate from other countries and settle here. In that sense only the Jews and Parsis fall under the category of minority. But they refused to call themselves as minorities and fully integrated themselves in the national mainstream. 99% of the Muslims and 99.9% of the Christians in India have not come from outside. They belong to this land only. They might have changed their religion a few generations ago, but how come that makes them minorities? There is complete freedom of worship in this land because the Hindus believe that truth is one while the learned call it by different names and all those different paths to realise that truth are also equally true. Therefore mere change of religion does neither change one’s motherland nor the ancestors. Hence those who are being categorised as minorities today must take a stand that they are not minorities and they are an integral part of this national society.

If we take religion as the basis for deciding as to who is a minority then the question arises as to who is a majority. People will say ‘Hindu’ is majority. But the Supreme Court has atleast on three occasions declared that Hindu does not denote any religion and it is a way of life which encompasses many religious groups. If religion is to be the basis of deciding as to who is a minority, then all religious traditions of India have to be declared as minorities. Therefore let us emphatically declare that we all together constitute the national society and we have a common motherland, common culture and common ancestors. This is what the Sangh calls the ‘Hindu’ Rashtra. We might be pursuing different religious paths, yet we are all Hindu in terms of our nationality. Hindu worldview is unique in the world which not only recognises diversity in creation because of its belief in the principle of ‘unity in diversity’, but also accommodates all forms of diversity in it. Therefore there is no threat of loss of identity to anybody in the Hindu Rashtra. But there is only one condition, that they should accept the validity of all faiths and internalize the spirit of ‘equal respect for all religions’.

Once this mind-set is developed, then there won’t be any problem in accepting Ram, Krishna, Chandragupt, Vikramaditya etc as our ancestors. Those who are opposing the construction of Ram temple and creating every possible hurdle in its way, are looking at it as a HinduñMuslim problem. In fact it is a matter of restoring the national honour. Babar came here as an invader and his commander Mir Baqi demolished a 11th ñ12th century temple at Ayodhya and constructed a mosque in its place. He did not do it with any religious motive. He did it with the sole objective of inflicting insult on the defeated people. The national honour was deeply hurt because of it. The same was done to the temples of Mathura and Kashi too. Thousands of temples were demolished In the same way. There are atleast three thousands mosques which were built on the remnants of temples. Ram, Krishna and Shiva are the most worshipped deities in this country and therefore these places are most sacred places for the Hindus. Every year lakhs of piligrims visit these places. When they see mosques standing there they are immediately reminded of the Muslim invaders. Only negative image of Islam is projected in their minds and they find it hard to believe that Islam is a religion of peace and brotherhood. This hinders mutual goodwill and respect. It is with this in mind that in 1977, the then Prime Minister Shri Morarji Desai had told a delegation from the Aligarh Muslim University that if they wanted to establish cordial relations with the Hindus they should hand over these three places to them. The saints spearheading the Ram temple movement also said that they won’t demand for three thousand if these three places ñ Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi ñ are restored to them. Lord Ram is the greatest unifying factor in our country. Nobody dares call Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia a communalist. He also said
once, that Ram, Krishna and Shiva are the identity of this nation. Our Chief Guest has rightly pointed out that the casteism has gone worse after the Mandal Commission Report. Vote bank politics of our political parties have added fuel to the fire. It is necessary to draw attention to one incident. During the conflicts between forwards and backwards after Mandal Commission Report, one day at a place in Bihar both sections were about to indulge in a conflict when suddenly it was announcede that the Ram Rath was going to come there. Both sections immediately stopped fighting, paid their respects to Lord Ram together and resumed their fighting after the Ram Rath left that place. Politics divide where as culture unites.
But for those who relate themselves to Babar and Aurangjeb simply because they were also Muslims, the above mosques do not appear insulting. Instead they regard them as monuments proclaiming the supremacy of Islam over the kafirs. Some members of the Babari Masjid Action Committee had declared that if it were proved that there was a temple earlier, they would themselves demolish the Babri structure. In 1992 when the structure was brought down, a rock-edict was found which unequivocally proclaimed in the engraved Devanagari characters that there was a temple at that spot. All controversies should have ended after that. But the obstinate elements denied that epigraphic evidence.

And now when the ASI excavations unequivocally declare that temples of different times did exist there, itís alleged that the ASI report was written under Govt pressure. They now insist that they would abide by the verdict of the Court, but the mentality that has overwhelmed them will not allow them to accept even that verdict. Otherwise, they would have ended the dispute over Mathura shrine long back. The Mathura controversy continued from 1832 to 1966, and there were nine cases, ten appeals and two revision petitions. All the decisions were in favour of the Hindus, but the Muslims refuse give up their claim even to this day. There are explicit decrees of Aurangzeb to destroy the temples at Kashi and Mathura.

But they will not accept ever justice if it is in favour of the ‘infidels’. The progeny of Marx and Macaulay support this mentality; and why shouldn’t they! After all Hindu-bashing is bread and butter for them. Ordinary Muslims in general want to live in peace and harmony with their co-religionists, but the extremist leadership of the community cherishes the dreams of Hindusthan becoming Islamic. In this environment, it is really an encouraging signal that the nationalist leadership among them is asserting itself.

The progeny of Marx and Macaulay are greatly disappointed that in spite of their steadfast frantic opposition, the Hindutva forces are marching ahead. Hence they have intensified their virulent propaganda through their stooges in the media. Media is one area where they still enjoy some advantage over the nationalist forces. Taking advantage of this situation, they would twist any minor incident to abuse the Hindu society, so that it can be painted as a demonic crowd. They don’t care that, in this exercise, they are resorting to blatant falsehood. Some English language newspapers have recently published a picture of a weeping young man named Kutubnddin Ansari. This was the same picture which was flashed in the front pages of all papers on the 3 day after the Godhra carnage when violence started as a reaction in several parts of Gujarat. It was written below this picture of a terribly shaken, weeping young man with folded hands that he was begging the mob for life from the first floor of his house. The menacing mob of rioters was baying for his blood while he was entreating them with folded hands not to kill him. A legitimate question arises as to why the skilled photographer of the Reuters News Agency could not take a picture of the riotous crowd or the building which was supposed to be set on fire by the crowd? Because then the photo could have become more meaningful and effective. Is it possible that the picture of a man standing in the first floor could come perfectly, yet no trace of the crowd in the picture? Can there be any other glaring example of misusing the art of photography? After three days, there appeared another picture of the same boy, this time with a smiling face, thanking God for saving his life. A question crops up as to how a murderous crowd, which was alleged to have not spared even pregnant women, could became so benign in that frenzied situation to let go the boy unharmed. The reason for repeating the publication of that picture was that the West Bengal Government which is run by the leftists, has provided asylum to him. This is the ‘Left way’ of continuing their malicious propaganda against the Gujrat Government.

Recently when forty people were killed and a hundred injured in Bombay bomb blasts, the crime was tried to be justified by linking it with the Gujarat riots. And see the fun of it; the Mumbai blasts were forgotten just in a couple of days but the Gujarat chapter is being kept alive even after a year and a half of its occurrence.

It may be asked of those who have so much empathy for Ansari, whether they have ever cared to visit the refugee camps of the Kashmiri Pandits, who were hounded out of their homes and languishing in the wretched refugee camps even after fourteen years. It is to be remembered that the Gujarat holocaust had not happened when the systematic cleansing of the Kashmiri Pandits had stared. Which is this mentality that takes pleasure in massacring the innocents and rendering the whole families destitue? We may even leave this 14 years old happenings aside; but what about the murder of nine Hindu fishermen at Marad in Kerala, when they were relaxing on the sea-shore after day’s hard work? What was the motive behind this mindless killing, except, to de-Hinduise coastal belt, so that the smuggling of weapons and drugs could continue unhindered? Has any ëhuman rightist’ gone there to offer solace to those hapless Hindus? The English language newspapers owned by capitalists have ignored this despicable incident. Why? Were those killed lesser human beings?

Equally strange is the behaviour of our Human Rights Commission. In the Best Bakery case when the accused were set free because the main eye-witnesses turned hostile, the NHRC rushed to the Supreme Court saying that justice can not be rendered to the victims in Gujarat and hence the case be re-tried in a court outside Gujarat. But when the accused who were charged with burning down the whole of Radhabai Chawl in Mumbai during the riots in 1993 were set free by the lower Court for want of evidence, why did not the NHRC come forward to take that case also to the Apex Court? Is it because those killed in the Radhabai Chawl episode were all Hindus? In 1984 riots in Delhi, thousands of Keshdhari Sikhs were killed by the mobs that were led by Congress leaders, but almost all the accused were set free, because the prime witness had changed her statement. Why did the NHRC fail to take note of it? Will not the extreme concern for Muslims and Christians and utter disregard for Hindus by the NHRC, make people question the impartiality of it?

The attempt of the Marxists and the Macaulayists to absolve Pakistan from her reprehensible crimes speaks volumes about their intentions and proclivities. The Pakistan Government and the so-called secular journalists in Bharat appear to speak the same language. Pakistan Government goes on a media blitzkrieg against India quoting our own secular papers throughout the world. Yet our secular brigade is not ashamed. Man is a slave of money. They are serving their ‘masters’ religiously. [...].

The Hindu
Date:08/10/2003 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2003/10/08/stories/2003100803421100.htm

VHP warns of 'polarisation' in every village

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI OCT. 7. Every village in the country will be divided and there will be "complete polarisation'' if political parties did not legislate in favour of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, the VHP warned today.

The VHP international general secretary, Pravin Togadia, said here that the VHP would not help any party in the coming Assembly polls and would ensure that no party took advantage of its programme starting on October 15 when rallies would be held in Delhi and Lucknow ahead of the gathering of "Ram bhakts" in Ayodhya on October 17.

He said that people from over one lakh villages would gather at Ayodhya, and after that, possibly on October 18, the "sants" leading the "andolan" (movement) could decide on expanding the Ayodhya movement to cover "30,000 mosques which replaced temples during the Mughal rule.''

Mr. Togadia spoke about the Hindu jan shakti demonstrating its strength in Ayodhya and warned that "India's polity will get polarised (Bharat ki rajniti bant jayegi).'' The movement would be peaceful, but if the Ayodhya rally was banned, he "would respond when the time comes."

Mr. Togadia said that if the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, did not support legislation for facilitating the construction of a Ram temple, "Ram bhakts" would decide "how to deal with them (unke saath kya vyavhar karna hai). And if the legislation was not in place before the next Lok Sabha polls, "Ramlalla will decide who will be India's next Prime Minister.''

Asked whether he himself would jump into politics, Mr. Togadia response was "not yet."

The VHP had hoped that after the Ayodhya excavation Muslims would ask to be "forgiven" for insisting on a Babri Masjid in Ayodhya and would withdraw the Ayodhya-related cases.

"Not one Muslim leader has done this. Our patience is running out. There is pressure on us to convert the Ram temple movement into a wider movement for the return of 30,000 temples destroyed during the Mughal period,'' he said.

The "sants" leading the October 17 rally in Ayodhya "may announce on October 18 the plan to widen the movement beyond Ayodhya... every village will become a battleground... there will be complete polarisation... Hindu "shakti" will decide who will be the next Prime Minister,'' Mr. Togadia said.

October 05, 2003

Mid Day [Bombay, India], October 6, 2003

Mumbai is for Marathis, says Thackeray

By: A Mid Day Correspondent
October 5, 2003
Hammer out the Bangladeshis from Mumbai and Maharashtra, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray ordered his troops at the party’s annual rally held at Shivaji Park in Dadar yesterday.

A Marathi maanus alone cannot weed out the threat of Islam, hence the call for Hindutva that will unite all Indians, Thackeray said. “I have said that Maharashtra and Mumbai is for Marathis, just like Bengal is for Bengalis, Gujarat for Gujaratis and so on. All of them cannot take on Islam, ISI or (Lashkar-e) Taiba on their own. But together they can deliver an iron blow,” he said.

Thackeray also hinted that the recent attack on Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu was carried out by Islamic terrorists and not by the Naxals as is widely believed by the intelligence agencies.

“Take that weapon in your hands, there is no other option. What’s wrong in it? Even Mahatma Gandhi has said that one must fight out like a mard and not sit helpless,” he claimed.

He did not forget to reiterate that Mumbai belonged to Marathis. He also asked Maharashtrian youth to do away with ‘useless education’ and look for something else. “I can’t see a Marathi milkman, a vegetable vendor or even a cabbie any more,” he moaned.

Thackeray reiterated his opposition to the peace process, though he didn’t launch a direct attack on the Centre or Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for conducting peace talks.

“We are again talking about a bus service to Lahore. While our passengers to Pakistan are usually clean, what about theirs? What will you do if there are terrorists?” he asked.

He supported his son and Sena Executive President Uddhav Thackeray’s experiment of joining hands with Dalits under the slogan Shiv Shakti + Bheem Shakti = Desh Bhakti (Sena power and Dalit’s strength put together is patriotism) and promised there won’t be any backstabbing from the Sena. “You tried others. Now try us,” he appealed.

Referring to the police permission to loudspeakers at Sena’s Dussehra rally and then its withdrawal, Thackeray challenged that if the police had guts, they should remove loudspeakers from mosques that blare much before the allowed time frame.

His bete noire and Maharashtra Home Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, however, received a word of praise from Thackeray for his act of allowing loudspeakers at Sena rally in his own powers. “I won’t call him Lakhoba (a slang for a traitor in Marathi, conferred upon Bhujbal after he quit Sena in 1991) any more,” Thackeray announced.

The 40-minute speech, however, was devoid of any major fireworks, which is a Thackeray trademark, barring a few usual punches.

A jubilant Sena crowd, after the defeat of Congress in Chief Minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s Loksabha constituency, was expecting a thunderous speech from Thackeray that did not happen.

There were no speeches from Uddhav and Raj Thackeray, both of whom sat on either sides of Thackeray.

October 03, 2003

The Hindu, Oct 02, 2003

'Saraswati Vandana' made mandatory at NBT book fairs
By Anita Joshua

NEW DELHI OCT. 1. The rendition of "Saraswati Vandana" has become mandatory at all book exhibitions mounted by the National Book Trust (NBT), and there is a growing preference for Hindi within the organisation.

These recent developments are being cited by insiders as evidence of the NBT joining the clutch of autonomous institutions under the Human Resource Development Ministry, that are slowly, but surely, furthering the agenda of the Minister, Murli Manohar Joshi.

On the advice of the recentlyappointed NBT Chairman, Brajkishore Sharma, the Exhibition Section made it compulsory for "Saraswati Vandana" to be included in the inaugural function of every book fair organised by the Trust. The new "checklist of the steps involved in organising a book fair" — making this mandatory — was issued on August 19.

In fact, the mandatory inclusion of this salutation to the Goddess of Learning caused a bit of a stir at the 26th National Book Fair in Kolkata last month when the West Bengal Minister for Higher Education, Satya Sadhan Chakraborty, walked out in protest.

However, the introduction of "Saraswati Vandana", according to insiders, is only part of the effort being made by the bigwigs at the NBT to implement the Dr. Joshi's pet projects; particularly after Mr. Sharma took over as Chairman.

That he shares Dr. Joshi's ideology on ticklish issues is something Mr. Sharma does not try to hide. He is president of the Bharat Gaurav Sansthan (Image India Foundation in English), which recently organised a discussion on "Ayodhya Ki Khudai Ka Sach (The Truth about the Ayodhya Excavation)" wherein "pro-temple" historians trained their guns on "secular" counterparts.

Sources within the Trust maintain that since Mr. Sharma took charge, increasingly the focus of the NBT's preoccupation has been on subjects that are dear to Dr. Joshi; a case in point is the selection of "Vedic Mathematics" as the topic of a four-day workshop at the Kolkata Fair.

This apart, the NBT has apparently decided to make "Ancient India's Contribution to Science and Technology" — another favourite with Dr. Joshi — the theme of next year's World Book Fair.

Further, the NBT tried to rope in Atul Rawat — regular writer in the RSS publication Organiser, who was involved in the controversial review of history textbooks by the National Council for Educational Research and Training — to help with the theme project but the arrangement fell through apparently over money matters.

Also, Hindi is fast becoming the most favoured language within the NBT.

Though the "checklist of the steps involved in organising a book fair" provides for publicity material to be printed in the local language of the area where the exhibition is being hosted, no such concession has been made vis-a-vis the name stand at the inaugural function.

As per the "checklist", the name stand has to be in Hindi, irrespective of where the fair is being held.