Ever since becoming prime minister, Narendra Modi has tried to maintain a studied distance from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s more militant offshoot Vishwa Hindu Parishad and its desire to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya. That may not last long.

A contingent of sadhus from Ayodhya who owe allegiance to the VHP will travel to the small town of Janakpur in Nepal later this month at exactly the time Modi will be there, and hope to be able to raise the issue with him.

Modi will be in Kathmandu for a SAARC summit later this month. Officials in the external affairs ministry have confirmed that the prime minister's three-day visit to Nepal will start on November 25, and will involve trips to  the religious sites of Janakpur, which is revered as the birthplace of Sita;  Lumbini, which is considered the birth place of Lord Buddha; and Muktinath, a holy shrine situated in the mountainous northwestern region of Nepal.

Awaiting confirmation

His tip to Janakpur will coincide with the pilgrimage of the sadhus from Ayodhya to celebrate a festival that marks the marriage of Ram and Sita there.

VHP vice-president Jiveshwar Mishra said a contingent of nearly 200 sadhus will start off under his leadership from Ayodhya on November 17 and, after halting at various spots in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, will reach Janakpur on November 24.

“We will stay there till November 27, when Ram-Sita vivah will be celebrated, and start our return journey to Ayodhya the next day,” Mishra said. “Modiji is likely to visit Ram Janaki temple either on November 25 or November 26. The final date has not been informed to us so far.”

Mishra, who is coordinating the event on behalf of the VHP, said, “I had a meeting with Janakpur’s local administration last month. Modiji will stay in the temple complex for three hours, and if Ram wishes all will be well for Ayodhya.”

VHP's golden anniversary

Asked whether there will be a meeting between Modi and VHP leaders or whether the prime minister will make an announcement on a temple in Ayodhya, Mishra said: “I don’t know about that. But just as Lord Ram made this coincidence possible, he will work for his temple in Ayodhya.”

Modi has so far tried not being seen with the leaders of the VHP, which is celebrating the golden jubilee of its formation this year. He has also kept distance from the Sangh Parivar’s project to build a temple on the site of the Babri mosque, which was demolished by a mob of Hindu extremists in 1992.

Mishra was optimistic about the VHP leaders’ meeting with Modi, though the prime minister’s office maintaining silence over the “coincidence”.