Opposition Parties Will Not Succeed in Dividing Hindus, Says Vishva Hindu Parishad President
© REUTERS / Rajesh Kumar SinghAn Indian Hindu holy man shouts slogans during a meeting organized by the Vishva Hindu Parishad or the World Hindu Council at Sangam, the confluence of rivers the Ganges and the Yamuna during the annual Magh Mela festival in Allahabad, India, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018
© REUTERS / Rajesh Kumar Singh
The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) or World Hindu Council, a key Hindu organisation linked to India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was founded in 1964 and has been one of the main groups that have led the Ram Temple movement in India since 1989. Its main aim is to consolidate Hindu society and serve and protect the Hindu religion.
While the VHP was established to construct and renovate Hindu temples, and deal with the matters of cow slaughtering and religious conversion, it has also been criticised for contributing to stoking hatred against Muslims in the country.
VHP International Working President Alok Kumar spoke to Sputnik about various issues like the population control bill, Uttar Pradesh state elections, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's tenure.
Sputnik: The Uttar Pradesh government has proposed a population control bill. What do you and the VHP think about it?
Alok Kumar: The bill will help a lot in terms of family planning as it gives sufficient incentives for adhering to the two-child norm. The VHP has not raised objection to the entire bill but only on the provision of incentivising couples with one child and bringing down the fertility rate to 1.7 percent.
We believe that with the two-child norm and 2.1 average fertility rate the population can be stabilised. With the one-child policy, the population will start to decline and we don’t want that because people are the country's asset. We welcome the two-child policy but as far as the one-child norm is concerned we don’t think it will be in the interest of the country.
This is the reason we have made a suggestion to the Uttar Pradesh Law Commission to delete the provision from the proposed bill. I also believe that our suggestion is very reasonable and the commission will accept it.
Sputnik: Opposition parties argue the bill will increase cases of female feticide (aborting female foetuses) and cause harm to women. Do you agree with this?
Alok Kumar: We don’t think that such things will happen. There are reliable family planning norms. There are several procedures that can be adopted. Therefore, criticism on the basis of such arguments is not valid.
Comments from political leaders like Asaduddin Owaisi are not the barometer of what is right and what is wrong.
Sputnik: Do you think the bill targets the Muslim community?
Alok Kumar: Not at all. This is not mandatory. If someone wants to have more children it’s his/her wish but then they should take care of the children. The burden should not be on the taxpayers.
Sputnik: What do you think about Uttar Pradesh's Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020 (termed the “love jihad law” by media)
Alok Kumar: Well, "love jihad" is a reality. Any marriage brought about by any person by coercion or fraud or financial incentives is bad. The law only restraints marriages which are brought about by concealment of facts including the religion of the man or by some temptations, and I believe that this law is going in a very positive way.
Sputnik: The Samajwadi Party and Aam Aadmi Party flagged irregularities in the purchase of land for the Ram Temple in Ayodhya city of India’s Uttar Pradesh. What are your views on the allegations?
Alok Kumar: Certainly there was nothing illegal in the purchase of land for the Ram Temple. Their campaign is driven by their political agenda. Elections are just months away in Uttar Pradesh and they are afraid so are trying to create misunderstanding about Hindu leadership.
We are satisfied that the people involved in the deal are known to everyone in the country. I don’t think that anyone would believe that Lord Rama’s money is being spent improperly. Every penny is being spent miserly and all those transactions were lawful.
Their campaign was politically motivated and false propaganda.
Sputnik: Vishva Hindu Parishad has backed the construction of the Ram Temple. Now that building has started, what changes do you think will take place in Ayodhya?
Alok Kumar: This was not the movement for the construction of one more temple. This was for arousing the consciousness about Lord Rama, the values he stood for, equality, female empowerment, and above all the end of terrorism.
All these values will be rekindled in the country. The "Bharat" will try to live with the ideals of Lord Rama. Therefore, not only Ayodhya but the entire country will benefit from the construction of the temple.
Sputnik: After the Ram Temple, what are the other issues you will be taking up?
Alok Kumar: We have always been taking up many more issues like the development of Cow products, Sanskrit language, education, especially in distant villages and slums of the country, healthcare, education, and entrepreneurship of castes and tribes, female empowerment, trying to instil Hindu values among the population, and the worldwide unity of Hindus.
We have always been working on these issues and continue to work on them.
Sputnik: There's a feeling that the Modi government is ignoring the demands of the VHP. What's your opinion on that?
Alok Kumar: I am not aware of this. There are no differences between the government and the VHP. We have usual consultations with the people in the government. We exchange viewpoints and they implement the suggestions that they think are right.
Sputnik: Of late, both the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) and BJP have been giving statements that are seen as an effort to woo the Muslim community. What are your thoughts on this?
Alok Kumar: There is nothing new which has been said by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat ji. We have always believed that 85 percent of Indian Muslims have the same DNA as Hindus. Their forefathers and history are one. They value most of the values that are cherished in the country. There is a fundamental unity amongst all of them irrespective of the fact that some of them go to a mosque.
We are trying to rekindle those points of unity. This is what Bhagwat ji and RSS is trying to do.
Sputnik: Elections in Uttar Pradesh are slated for next year. How will the VHP extend its support to the BJP?
Alok Kumar: Why do even people think that the VHP will support the BJP? We don’t participate in active electioneering. But yes, if I have to choose for myself, the BJP is more pro-Hindu, pro-nationalism and I, for myself, consider it a better party.
Sputnik: Former state chief Mayawati has also started wooing the Brahmin community. Do you think she will be able to make inroads with BJP supporters?
Alok Kumar: I don’t think so. Mayawati tried and succeeded once but you can’t fool someone twice. I don’t think Mayawati or Akhilesh Yadav will succeed in dividing Hindu society.
Sputnik: How do you see the tenure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi?
Alok Kumar: Well, I find him better than the previous ones. India has fared well in the defence sector under his leadership. India is looking eye-to-eye with China. The western borders are peaceful and the eastern borders are delineated and we have a Prime Minister who is concerned about the problems of the people.