Will Baba Paramhans Das’ 5 December ultimatum to the government be taken in all seriousness?
In an interview to Swarajya, the mahant questions the government’s inaction over building the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Baba Paramhans Das is the mahant of Ayodhya’s Tapasviji ki Chavani. He sat on a hunger strike last month but was forcibly taken to hospital after a week, and his fast was broken. Now, he has given an ultimatum to the government till 5 December to pave the way for the construction of Ram temple failing which he will self-immolate on 6 December, a day celebrated as Shoury Diwas by supporters of Ram Janmabhoomi movement to commemorate bringing down of the disputed Babri Masjid structure. We sat down for a conversation with the mahant.
Why did you break your fast last month?
Six days into the fast, I was forcibly taken to the Lucknow PGI. They picked me up from the fast site in the middle of the night, stuffed me into an ambulance. Then the doctors force fed me, which led to breaking of my fast. Later, on 12 October, Yogiji met me and offered a glass of juice to officially call off the fast. I agreed.
Why? What assurance did he give you?
Yogiji told me that it’s not under his control and within a week’s time, he would get me an audience with the Prime Minister to whom I can air my grievances. Now, it’s been a month. He didn’t meet me when he came here on Deepavali otherwise I would’ve asked him when his promised one week will be over.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath met many saints in Ayodhya when he came to the city for Deepotsav. Why didn’t he meet you?
There was speculation that I would be invited. I had gone to Ram Katha Park on the morning of 6 November and talked to media on Ram Mandir. When I came back to chavani, I was put under house arrest. In the whole of Ayodhya, I was singled out. There are many saints in the city who have got the money or access in the government so they can’t speak out of turn. Money is a dangerous thing. Even on 7 November, Yogiji drove past my chavani but didn’t stop by because he knew baba would only ask about the mandir and also inquire whatever happened to my audience with the Prime Minister, which he had promised me a month back.
It was expected that CM Adityanath will make an announcement regarding Ram mandir on Deepavali. He didn’t. What is your future plan now?
We are not going to drop the issue of Ram mandir no matter what. I have given this government ultimatum till 5 December. After that we will start our movement. I have declared that I will immolate myself on 6 December. Now what exactly will happen is in the womb of time but one thing is certain: we won’t let them sit quietly. We will make them respond to our demand.
Do you feel the government wants to suppress the movement that saints now want to launch for Ram mandir construction?
There is no doubt about it. It is 100 per cent correct that this government doesn’t want to build the temple. Rather it wants to keep the issue alive to serve electoral purposes. They are drunk on power. It has gone into their heads because they won full majority. But note this: if temple is not built, they will surely lose.
But people say Hindus don’t have any alternative except the Bharatiya Janata Party.
It’s true that other parties are hobbled by dynastic politics. Apart from the BJP, Congress is the only national party. But we know neither Rahul Gandhi nor his sister adhere to Bharatiya sanskriti. Surely there are good people in that party and if one of them is picked for prime minister’s post with Rahul Gandhi remaining only as party president, it has some chance. But we know, Congress won’t nominate anyone else except the Gandhis. So, currently, there is no alternative. But who knew Modi before he became chief minister? No one knew Arvind Kejriwal either but he stunned everyone by winning in Delhi. Therefore, an alternative to the BJP can also emerge soon and in an equally dramatic fashion. The government has a very limited window. It can bring an ordinance paving the way for the construction of the temple. Otherwise, we are going to start our agitation. Bhagwan Ram had gone into exile for 14 years. Last time, the BJP didn’t deliver on its promise and people sent it into political exile for 10 years. This time, their exile will be much longer.
What if the government ignores you just like it did with G D Agrawal, the environmentalist who passed away after 112 days of fast?
It won’t be like G D Agrawalji this time. You wait and watch. Everyone will be up in arms when I immolate myself and the BJP wouldn’t be able to douse the fire that will engulf the country. They will have to impose curfew everywhere.
But wouldn’t it be better if you go to the people, launch awareness campaign against the government and force it to respond to people’s demands? What will immolation achieve?
Self-immolation is my brahmastra. It’s last resort. There is no other or better way. After I am dead, these mahants who are silent now will also be forced to take to the streets. I hope my death will act in a similar manner for Ram mandir as Bhagat Singh’s hanging did for independence. Ab mahasangram hoga (Now there will be revolution).