Ayodhya: The Shiv Sena and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had tried everything in their hands to mobilise support for their scheduled events in Ayodhya on Sunday, at times indulging in their trademark communal rants. However, people far less than their expectations turned up.
The two Hindu extremist groups had claimed supports from hundreds of thousands of people. The VHP in particular, according to media reports, anticipated participation of 2 to 3 lakh people in its Dharma Sabha. Eyewitnesses however said not more than 30,000 people actually turned up for the event.
Some television channels, including NDTV, citing local sources said around 50,000 peope attended the sabha, touted as the biggest congregation of 'Ram bhakts' in Ayodhya since the 1992 "Kar Seva".
In 1992, 16th century Babri Masjid was demolished by BJP, RSS, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena and Hindutva extremists in the presence of their top leadership on December 06, 1992 to build Ram temple.
Sunday's event was not only short of the expected numbers but it also faced a strong opposition from local citizens. The Faizabad district traders' body had in fact opposed the VHP roadshow and also announced to greet Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray with black flags.
“They are trying to pollute the peaceful atmosphere of Faizabad and Ayodhya,” Sanyukt Vyapar Mandal President Janardan Pandey said, declaring its opposition to VHP’s Dharma Sabha on Sunday November 25.
"In Faizabad district, including in Ayodhya, people from all castes and religions live in total peace and harmony. It is parties from outside who come and try to divide the people for their own vested interests", a local youth, who is preparing for Civil Services exams, said.
Meanwhile, one of the religious leaders attending the Vishwa Hindu Parishad'srally in Ayodhya Sunday claimed today a decision on the Ram temple will be taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ministers after December 11.
Swami Rambhadracharya said he had the assurance from a senior union minister, whom he met on Friday.
"I am hopeful that a legislation will come for temple construction. The government will respect our sentiments -- this is what a seniormost minister told me. He has asked me to keep patience", Swami Rambhadracharya quoted the minister as saying but did not name him.
Earlier in the day, Uddhav Thackeray while addressing the Sena rally in Ayodhya asked the Narendra Modi government to wake up from a "Kumbhakarna-like slumber" and declare the date for its construction.
VHP media in-charge Ambuj Ojha, on the other hand, said, "After staying in a 'taat' (tent), Lord Ram is expecting a revival of bravado among his devotees. The moment has come. The temple must be built where Ram Lalla is currently seated. Also, there should not be any mosque in the cultural boundary of Ayodhya."
Praant Sangathan mantra (Awadh) of VHP Bholendra, in a written statement, said this was the final Dharam Sabha for construction of Ram temple. "After this, no more Dharam Sabhas will be held and the construction of the temple will commence," he added.
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