More than 150 international donors to the Sangh Parivar had meetings last week in Delhi and Lucknow to urge the government to build a Ram temple on the site of the demolished Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. The 460-year-old mosque was demolished on December 6, 1992, by a mob affiliated to the Sangh. They claim that the mosque was built on birthplace of the god Ram.
The non-resident Indians, who were afforded an unusually high level of access to Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, were taken to Ayodhya, where they visited “the spot on which Ram temple is to be constructed” and inspected the Sangh Parivar’s preparations at Karsevakpuram, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s front office in the town.
“They were over 150 in number and had come from 22 different countries, the majority from the US, Canada, UK and United Arab Emirates,” Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s spokesperson Vinod Bansal told Scroll.in on Sunday, a day after the tour ended. His organisation put the trip together.
“The NRIs expressed their desire to fund Ram temple at Ayodhya but asked the government to remove all hurdles and start the construction before 2019 Lok Sabha election,” Bansal said. “They are getting restless because they don’t understand why this can’t happen now that the BJP is in power both at the Centre and in the state.”
The three-day “Ayodhya Chalo” tour of the NRIs was meticulously planned, scheduled and charted down to the last minute.
Kick-starting the tour, the NRIs were felicitated by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which also hosted a lunch for them at its RK Puram office in New Delhi on May 4. “VHP President G Raghava Reddy and Secretary General Champatrai were also present on the occasion,” Bansal said.
The same evening, they were hosted for dinner by the BJP president at the party’s headquarters. “Amit Shah said on the occasion that the government is working hard to remove all hurdles and speed up the construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya,” said an NRI who participated in the event.
Acting on behalf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shah recieved a memorandum from the NRIs. They urged the government not to wait for a resolution of the Ayodhya dispute by the Supreme Court, which is considering the case, and to take steps to ensure that the construction of the temple starts before the 2019 Lok Sabha election, BJP officials said.
After spending the night in the Capital’s Hyatt Regency hotel, the NRIs were flown to Lucknow on May 5. From there, they went to Ayodhya in air-conditioned busses.
In Ayodhya, they visited the makeshift temple at the disputed site. Later, they inspected the stone work at Karsevakpuram, where, apart from being briefed by Vishwa Hindu Parishad officials about the Sangh Parivar’s preparations for the construction of a Ram temple, they spoke to some sadhus.
On May 6, they were hosted for lunch by Adityanath at the Chief Minister’s residence in Lucknow. Like Shah, Adityanath assured the Sangh’s foreign dignitaries that he would work to remove the hurdles to the construction of the temple.