Shah holds marathon meetings with RSS, BJP leaders

A week after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat called for “appropriate and requisite law” to pave the way for construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, BJP president Amit Shah held marathon meetings with the state functionaries of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and State Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and Ministers in Lucknow on Wednesday.

The RSS chief, in his customary address on Vijayadashmi on October 18 had said: “The construction of Ram temple is necessary from the self-esteem point of view. It will also pave the way for an atmosphere of goodwill and oneness in the country.”

The meetings in Lucknow hold significance as Amit Shah is visiting Uttar Pradesh despite being busy with elections in five States. The senior-most leaders of the party are tight-lipped about the deliberations and describe it as a co-ordination meeting between the BJP and the RSS.

The meeting in Lucknow was summoned a day after former president of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Pravin Togadia, announced to float a new political outfit with the slogan ‘Abki Bar Hindu Sarkar’ that could impact the BJP poll prospects.

Besides the Chief Minister, RSS senior functionaries Krishna Gopal, Datrayee Hasbole, RSS State chief Shivprakash, BJP state president Mahendra Nath Pandey and general secretary (organisation) Sunil Bansal and Deputy Chief Ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma also attended the meeting.

In view of the strict secrecy maintained by the BJP, the outcome of the meeting was not known but it will be visible in the strategy that the party adopts in the days to come.

The senior RSS leaders, sources said, expressed their displeasure over the performance of the ministers of the Yogi Adityanath Cabinet.

The RSS functionaries specifically pointed out the inability of the UP government to address the aspirations of the common man, particularly the unemployed youths, and asked the BJP leaders to make efforts so that the people do not vote for NOTA in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

“From time to time, the BJP’s UP unit keeps getting guidance from its national president. UP is a key State and electorally important,” BJP spokesperson Chandra Mohan said while refusing to divulge further details.

Sources say the issues that dominated the marathon meeting on Wednesday included the Ram temple, challenge posed by the former Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Pravin Togadia, preparations of the BJP organisation and the government for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, performance of the Yogi Adityanath government and its Ministers, possible challenge to be posed by the proposed alliance of Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party and the reshuffle in the Yogi Adityanath Cabinet.

The office-bearers of all RSS affiliates participated in the meeting presided over by Amit Shah. All-region secretary of the RSS was also invited to the meeting. The RSS has divided UP into seven ‘prants’ (zones) for organisational purpose.

BJP state president Mahendra Nath Pandey and party’s secretary (organisation) Sunil Bansal also held closed-door meetings with Amit Shah.

Togadia, a native of Gujarat and once a confidant of then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, has already announced to float his new political party. His supporters created disturbances in Ayodhya earlier this week.

On Tuesday, addressing a rally at Rajnandgaon in the poll-bound Chhattisgarh, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had said that the Congress always opposed the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya because it believed in “dividing the country” and never wanted the issue to be resolved.

“People have their own emotions and sentiments on Ram Janmabhoomi (birthplace of Lord Ram in Ayodhya). I have always maintained that public sentiments on the issue should be respected. The fight for Ayodhya is not from today but the mammoth ‘Hindu Samaj’ has been fighting for the cause for around 450 years,” he said.

Yogi said the site at Ayodhya where Ram Lalla was present was the birthplace of Lord Ram and no one should have any doubt about it.

Earlier in the day, Shah was given a warm reception at the CCS airport at Amausi by Yogi Adityanath and his Cabinet colleagues on the BJP president’s arrival in the state capital on Wednesday. From the airport, Shah drove to the venue of the meeting.

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