The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has floated a new affiliate to whip up support for a Ram temple to be constructed in Ayodhya even as the Supreme Court prepares to begin hearing final arguments in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case from December 5.

Launched nearly a month ago, the Shri Ram Mandir Nirman Sahayog Manch has already organised a series of meetings in Ayodhya and Lucknow with Hindu and Muslim religious leaders, in addition to prominent Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs and Christians.

“By the time the Supreme Court starts hearing the case from December 5, we will be in a position to show enough support for Ram temple in Ayodhya as well as in other parts of Uttar Pradesh,” said the Manch’s national convener and senior RSS pracharak Mahiraj Dhwaj.

The case before the Supreme Court involves the question of who owns the plot in the Uttar Pradesh town of Ayodhya on which the Babri Masjid stood until it was demolished on December 6, 1992, by a mob moblised by the Bharatiya Janata Party. Some Hindus believe that the mosque was constructed over the exact site where the god Ram was born.

“We have great respect for the Supreme Court,” said Mahiraj Dhwaj. “We are not a party to the case, but we will try to show the court that all religious communities, not just Hindus and Muslims but even Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Christians want a grand temple of Lord Ram at his birthplace. We expect that the court will take suo motu notice of the massive support that would be demonstrated by the time hearing begins.”

Seeking support

In the organisational structure of the Sangh Parivar, the new affiliate functions under the supervision of the Muslim Rashtriya Manch, whose head, senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar, is the chief patron of Shri Ram Mandir Nirman Sahayog Manch. In fact, Dhwaj too is from the Muslim Rashtriya Manch, serving as its national co-convener for Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Dhwaj said the new outfit organised its first meeting on September 17 in Ayodhya, “where over 3,000 Muslim clerics extended their support for the temple”. Kumar also attended the meeting.

“On September 19, we held a meeting of Christians in Lucknow,” Dhwaj added. “Like Muslims, they also took the pledge to support the construction of Ram Temple. In the week that followed, we also obtained support from Sikh religious leaders, Buddhist monks and Jain munis. All of them will participate in our effort to show the court that the temple is no longer a matter of dispute.”

Outfit of the masses’

Dhwaj described Shri Ram Mandir Nirman Sahayog Manch as an “outfit of the masses” that will be supported by “like-minded organisations”. He listed some such organisations: Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Muslim Rashtriya Manch, Rashtriya Ekta Mission, Masihi Mitra Manch, Bharat Tibet Sahyog Manch, Himalay Parivar, Sanatan Sabha, Shri Jagannath Sewa Samiti, Rashtriya Suraksha Jagaran Manch, Bhrashtachar Mukti Andolan. These are all part of the Sangh Parivar.

The decision to float a new outfit to build support for the construction of a Ram temple “on behalf of the masses” while the Supreme Court hears the dispute rather than entrust the task to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which has long spearheaded the Ram temple movement, is seen as a clever move by the RSS to deflect potential allegations of contempt of court.

Not that Shri Ram Mandir Nirman Sahayog Manch’s position on the Ayodhya dispute differs from the Sangh’s – it does not believe in sharing the disputed site either. “Barring a few exceptions, the majority of religious leaders of different communities we have interacted with are of the opinion that Ayodhya is the birthplace of Lord Ram and that the mosque should be built outside Ayodhya,” Dhwaj claimed. “There are chances of future conflict if we allow a mosque to be built close to the Ram Temple.”

The new affiliate has already demonstrated its standing within the Sangh Parivar. It was given a central role in organising the “Chhoti Diwali” of Chief Minister Adityanath in Ayodhya on October 18.

“On our request, the district administration provided us six daises along the route of the procession between Saket Degree College and Ram Katha Park,” said Dhwaj. “From these daises, religious leaders of Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism and Christianity [associated with the outfit] welcomed the procession. Recognising our contribution, the Chief Minister’s Office allowed select representatives of these communities to sit beside Adityanath at Ram Katha Park.”

The Shri Ram Mandir Nirman Sahayog Manch is now planning a five-day programme in Lucknow starting October 30 “to worship Lord Hanuman in order to remove obstacles for the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya”, Dhwaj said. Then, he added, they will organise a “massive programme” in Ayodhya in the third week of November.