The BJP leaders have snubbed the leading lights of the VHP by not participating in the Amrit Mahotsava celebrations to mark the 75th birthday of Mahant Nritya Gopal Das in Ayodhya.
Das, in the 50th year of his priesthood, heads a main temple in Ayodhya and is a main campaigner for the construction of Ram Temple on the disputed site in Ayodhya. He is also the chairman of Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, a trust sponsored and created by the VHP for the construction of Ram Temple and a litigant in the Supreme Court in its favour.
Though officially the Nyas is organising the function that is on from June 19 to 22, its parent body Vishwa Hindu Parishad is leading the show and its key figures, including Pravin Togadia and Ashok Singhal, are delivering the discourses -- mainly on unleashing another nationwide movement for the Ram Temple construction and on saffronising the polity and character of India.
Prominent among the invitees were BJP president Rajnath Singh, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his Madhya Pradesh counterpart Shivraj Singh Chouhan, but everyone benignly turned down the requests. Das had personally spoken and requested the top BJP leaders to grace the occasion and take his blessings for the future, mainly the 2014 parliamentary elections. Both Modi and Chouhan are said to be ardent followers of Das, yet they did not want to be seen in the company of hardcore Hindutva leaders.
From the BJP camp, Vinay Katiyar, Yogi Adityanath MP and Swami Chinmayanand attended the campaign -- all originally associated with the VHP-Bajrang Dal combine and involved in the Ram Janmabhoomi campaign. Even the state leaders of the BJP stayed away.