Deepak Gidwani, Friday, June 30, 2006
Hindu religious leaders being consulted on religious bill.
LUCKNOW: Mulayam Singh Yadav is changing colours fast. Even as reports of his new-found fondness for the saffron brigade fly thick and quick, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister is now preparing for another round of dalliances with sadhus and mahants.
The latest move involves the drafting of a new Bill for the administration of Hindu places of worship in UP by the state government. Though the move has been necessitated by a court order, the government is in overdrive mode to prepare the Bill for the next Assembly session.
Mulayam has instructed his bureaucracy that even minute details of the Bill should be finalised after consultations with the ‘dharmacharyas’ (Hindu religious leaders). His minister for religious affairs Ashok Vajpayee seems to have taken the cue. “The Bill is aimed at strengthening the Hindu dharma,” he told DNA. He confirmed that “all respected sadhus and mahants” would be consulted before finalising the Bill. “If need be, I would personally go to Kashi, Mathura and Ayodhya,” he said, adding: “I want to dispel any misunderstanding among the religious leaders.”
If the “dharmacharyas” are to be believed, there is indeed a lot of the misunderstanding the minister fears. “This is an evil attempt to grab the Hindu shrines,” roars Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, head of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas (trust). He told DNA on phone from Ayodhya that the sants and mahants were aware of the political designs behind this move. “We will resist it tooth and nail, and even fight it out on the streets,” says former MP and senior member of the Ram Janmabhoomi Trust Ram Vilas Vedanti.
Much-respected mahants like them could spoil Mulayam’s plans to get the blessings of the saffron forces.