Communalism

Constitution in Hand, Bhim Army's Chandrashekhar Azad Marches to Ayodhya

As thousands of Hindutva activists descend on Ayodhya, Azad wants to remind the administration of its constitutional duties.

New Delhi: Calling the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s ‘Dharma Sabha’ in Ayodhya ‘an attempt to whip up communal frenzy and instigate violence’, Bhim Army founder Chandrashekhar Azad plans to visit the disputed site on Monday.

At a press conference in New Delhi on the eve of Constitution Day, he announced that he will personally hand over a copy of the constitution to the district magistrate of Ayodhya to remind him of his duty to maintain law and order.

“What is happening in Ayodhya right now is nothing but another attempt by the BJP and the Sangh parivar to whip up communal frenzy, instigate violence and then use the bloodshed to polarise voters to benefit the party in the 2019 elections,” he said.

Azad also alleged that the Sangh parivar was trying to divide and polarise the Bahujan community through this movement.

Ayodhya turned into a fortress

As Ayodhya turned into a fortress on Monday, with around 50,000 VHP and Shiv Sena supporters gathering to demand a Ram temple at the disputed Babri Masjid site, many local Muslim families reportedly left town fearing a rerun of the 1992 violence.

Also read: A Legislation to Construct Ram Temple Will Legitimise Babri Masjid’s Demolition

The ‘Dharma Sabha’ demanded that the government pass an ordinance or executive order to bypass the legal process and start construction of the temple. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who was also in town for his first ‘darshan of Ram Lalla’, accused the Modi government of dragging its feet on the issue.

NDTV reported that “Five companies of Rapid Action Force personnel, anti-terrorism squads, 42 companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary and nearly 1,000 policemen” were deployed in the town to maintain law and order.

Bhim Army leader Chandrashekhar Azad. Credit: Munish Kumar/Files

‘Rechristen Ayodhya as Saket’

Referring to a petition filed by Vineet Kumar Maurya seeking to bring recognition to the Buddhist antecedents of Ayodhya, Azad said since the BJP government liked changing names, the town should be rechristened ‘Saket’. The city of Ayodhya is in the same region that was called Saket, and was the capital of Kosala. Gautam Buddha is believed to have lived in Saket for some time.

Accusing the Sangh parivar of trying to erase Dalit history, Azad said, “December 6 is the Mahaparinirvan Divas (death anniversary) of Babasaheb (B.R. Ambedkar) and November 26 is Constitution Day. It (the Babri Masjid demolition of December 6, 1992) was done deliberately to make people forget Babasaheb.”

On the law and order situation, he said, “if the people running this country and the UP government cannot protect people with this Constitution, they should vacate their seats…”

Support for Mayawati even as she distances herself

Azad also expressed support for Mayawati and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). “If the Congress calls itself a well-wisher of Dalits, then give leadership to honourable Behenji (Mayawati) and fight elections all over the country under her leadership,” he said.

He also revealed that he had called Mayawati last month to ‘seek her blessings’ but she did not speak to him.

Azad’s admiration and support for the BSP chief has not been reciprocated. He has been called a ‘BJP agent’ in the past and Mayawati continues to distance herself from Azad and his organisation. Without directly naming him, she has blamed the Bhim Army for the violence in Shabbirpur village of Saharanpur (UP) last year.

Watch: ‘Dharma Sabha to Be Held in Ayodhya Is an Attempt to Destroy the Peace in India’

“Some small organisations are holding rallies and are telling people that it is related to BSP in order to garner support. Also, such organisations are seeking donation from people. I want to caution people that these organisations have nothing to do with BSP and their sole aim is to collect donation. Such organisations may play in the hands of opposition parties during the elections,” Mayawati reportedly said two days ago.

Ayodhya as electoral plank

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday criticised the Congress for ‘scaring’ the judges with the threat of impeachment whenever they were to hear the Ayodhya case. Azad, on the other hand, claims the BJP is only raking up the Ayodhya issue in the hopes that it will reap political dividends.

With various opposition parties condemning BJP’s ‘divisive’ agenda in Ayodhya and the BJP doubling up on its demand for a Ram temple at the disputed site, politics over it is far from over.

Dates for hearing the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit case will be fixed in the first week of January next year.

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