Ayodhya, Feb 8 At a time when the long-standing, contentious issue of the Ram Mandir is back in the spotlight, the seers and saints of Ayodhya, identified as the final 'karta-dhartaa' (doers) in the decades-old movement for construction of a grand Ram Temple here in Uttar Pradesh, are a divided lot.
Separated by local mutt politics and political allegiance, they are singing different tunes on the issue. In short, it is 'Sant Vs Sant' as the Ram temple issue hots up.
The recent decision of a 'Param Dharm Sansad' at Kumbh in Prayagraj announcing the start of the construction of the temple from February 21, many feel, is an indicator of the chinks in the armour.
The group, led by Swami Swaroopanand, has announced that it has shown enough of patience and would now march to Ayodhya on 'Basant Panchami' and lay the foundation stone for the grand Ram temple.
Referring to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's announcement that a 221-metre-tall statue of Lord Ram would be installed in Ayodhya, the burly spiritual leader has also said that they will not settle for any diversionary tactics. The crux of the issue, he says, is the construction of the temple.
Many in the fraternity feel that Swami Swaroopanand's muscle flexing was aimed at pre-empting a move by seers sympathetic to the Bharatiya Janata Party and also to put the state government and the district administration in a quandary over the proposed march to the temple town.
"The move is well thought out...the plan is to instigate the mobs and force the police to act in order to contain the mob to maintain status quo as ordered by the Supreme Court and then paint the BJP as anti-Hindu," a religious leader told IANS not wishing to be named.
A priest at the fabled Hanumangarhi temple in Ayodhya, said that the whole gameplan was "Congress-sponsored" to derail the efforts undertaken by the Narendra Modi government.
"These saints are into conspiracies, they don't want Ram Lalla to sit in a temple" he said.
Mahant Pradeep Das of the Ram Janmabhoomi admits that there is no unity among religious leaders. Swamy Avimukteshwaranad who conducted the proceedings of the 'Param Dharm Sansad', however, accused the Modi government of making last ditch efforts for the Ram temple.
Acharya Mahamandaleshwar Swami Prnavananda of the Nirmohi Akhada said that the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi belonged to the Hindus and nobody could take it away from them.
Swami Anand Giri of the Juna Akhada rebuted charges of politics and said the orders of the Shankracharya would be complied with.
The chief priest of the Ram Janmabhoomi, Satyendra Das, was circumspect and told IANS: "There is both lack of unanimity among the religious leaders and too much politics on the issue." The Ram temple, he said, was going to be a long haul.
He also trashed Swamy Swaroopanand's announcement of beginning construction of the Ram temple on February 21 and said this could not happen as the Supreme Court had ordered status quo in the matter. According to him, Swaroopanand had little support among the religious leaders.