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As Dharma Sansad Returns to Udupi After 32 Years, Ram Mandir is the Only Constant

In 1985, the BJP had just two MLAs in the Karnataka Assembly. Today, it is the principal opposition party and has ruled the state once. The only thing that has not changed is the main agenda of the Sansad. Ram Mandir dominated the agenda in 1985 and remains the top issue today.

D P Satish | CNN-News18dp_satish

Updated:November 24, 2017, 10:36 AM IST
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As Dharma Sansad Returns to Udupi After 32 Years, Ram Mandir is the Only Constant
The two-day Dharma Sansad will be held in Udupi beginning Friday.
Udupi (Karnataka): Udupi, the famous temple town known for the international chain of Udupi Hotels, is all set to host the two-day All India Dharma Sansad beginning Friday.

The Sansad returns to the town after a gap of 32 years — it had hosted the second Dharma Sansad in 1985.

Much has changed in the last three decades. Udupi is no longer a small town with bad infrastructure. It is now a booming town and a district headquarters.

Most of the Hindu leaders who took part in the 1985 summit are no longer active. Some are no more.

In 1985, the BJP had just two MLAs in the Karnataka Assembly. Today, it is the principal opposition party and has ruled the state once.

The only thing that has not changed is the main agenda of the Sansad. Ram Mandir dominated the agenda in 1985 and remains the top issue today.

A poster for the Dharma Sansad.
A poster for the Dharma Sansad.

The only difference is that the slogan in 1985 was Ram Mandir ka taala kholo (open Ram Mandir locks) and now it is to build the temple.

In 1985, the Dharma Sansad had set a deadline for then PM Rajiv Gandhi government to open the locks of Ram Mandir, following which the PM had ordered the opening of temple doors, plunging the entire nation into communal violence.

Back then, Narendra Modi was not known outside a small circle of the RSS. As PM today, the Sansad wants him to allow the construction of Ram Mandir at the disputed site in Ayodhya.
Pejavara Vishweshatheertha Swamy, the senior most pontiff of Udupi and a top VHP leader, said there was no going back on the issue.

Speaking to News18.com, he said, "In 1985, we had demanded the removal of locks. Rajiv Gandhi had ordered the removal of locks. But the mandir is yet to be built. We are sure that there will be a new temple soon.”

Swamy added that the Sansad would discuss two more demands besides the Ram Temple — complete abolition of caste system and total ban on cow slaughter.

It has been speculated that the Dharma Sansad was being held at Udupi in view of the Karnataka Assembly elections next year. A Congress leader, on condition of anonymity, said the BJP was using it to create a “Hindu wave” in some parts of the state.

Dismisses the allegations, Vishweshatheertha Swamy said the Sansad was a “100% non-political event” and that no politician will be allowed to share the stage with the Hindu pontiffs and other speakers.

He, however, said Union Minister Uma Bharti would be participating in the Sansad in her personal capacity as a “sadhvi”.

More than 2,000 leaders from the VHP and other affiliated organisations have already landed in Udupi to chalk out a new strategy.

Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Sri Nirmalananda Natha Swamy of Vokkaliga community and many more influential religious leaders will addressing the summit in the next two days.

Interestingly, state BJP chief and the party’s CM face BS Yeddyurappa has already met some of the delegates and pontiffs. He claimed it was a personal visit and had nothing to do with the elections.

Speaking to News18.com, Yeddyurappa said, "I went there this morning as an ordinary Hindu. Not as a BJP leader. It is purely a religious event.”

The Dharma Sansad has been undecided on the Lingayats demand for a separate religion status. Officially, it maintains that there is no question of dividing the religion. Reacting to this, Karnataka Water Resources minister MB Patil said that since they are not Hindus, Sansad had no right to comment on the Lingayats. Patil is spearheading the separate religion movement.

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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