Saints come out openly against VHP supremo

Tribune News Service
Tuesday, April 3, 2001
The Tribune

Hardwar, April 2.

The Hindu saints of the holy city are up in arms against the VHP supremo, Mr Ashok Singhal. They have stood up unitedly against the VHP leader for his objectionable observations about their "irreverent attitude" towards the Ganga on the Tehri dam issue.

Having failed to take the Hindu fundamentalist leaders along with him to Tehri on March 30 to save the river from the onslaught of the dam, he lashed out at the saints a day after in Hardwar. He was surprised when all the saints came out openly against him.

At a meeting of the saints last evening a group of mahants resolved not to let Mr Singhal enter their ashrams for his narrow political gains. Political observers say that they have come to realise that with the commissioning of Tehri dam there would be no effect on the course of the Ganga.

With the developments within the Hindu religious leaders in Hardwar one would not be surprised that Mr Singhal's efforts to carve out another big issue after the Babri Masjid demolition might prove, to be its waterloo. Sources close to mahant Govind Das, Chief of the All-India Akhara Parishad, say that if Mr Singhal pushes hard the issue of the dam, the saints might turn out to bring a "fatwa" against him.

On the other hand, the oustees of the Tehri dam have come to realise that the announcement of Mr Singhal's fast unto death was a mere stunt to gain political mileage. Just hours before when he was supposed to sit on the fast, he reverted his decision by welcoming the move of the Union Government to constitute a committee of experts and religious leaders for drawing a consensus on the scientific management of the Ganga.

Meanwhile, the Power Minister of Uttaranchal, Mr Bhagat Singh Koshiyari is trying to avert the confrontation between Mr Singhal and the saints of Hardwar. Even yesterday, he accompanied Mr Singhal during the latter's meeting with the saints. But Mahant Govind Das and Mahant Vasudeo Giri of Mahanirvani Akhara refused to go in hands with the VHP supremo on the dam issue and walked out from the meeting. It is worth mentioning that these two groups of saints are the largest sub-sects with lakhs of followers.

Reports from Tehri say that the agitation of oustees continued for the fourth day at the dam site.

Referred by:Balram Sampla
Published on: April 5, 2001
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