File image of the VHP's model of the proposed Ram temple in Ayodhya | Photo: Ananya Bhardwaj | ThePrint
File image of the VHP's model of the proposed Ram temple in Ayodhya | Photo: Ananya Bhardwaj | ThePrint
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New Delhi: Friction among various Hindu religious groups in Ayodhya, who want to be part of the trust being set up by the Narendra Modi government for the construction of the Ram Mandir, is delaying its notification, ThePrint has learnt.    

The Supreme Court’s three-month deadline to the central government to set up the trust that will decide on the construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya ends on 9 February. 

“The VHP-backed Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, the Ramalaya Trust and other groups such as the Nirmohi Akhara and Digambar Akhara have publicly said they will agree with whoever the government decides to put in the trust. But internally there is a lot of friction among the different factions,” said a source familiar with the matter.

“Construction of the Ram Mandir is a matter of faith for all of them and they want some representation in the trust.”  

The government, the source added, has reached out to the different groups to assuage their concerns and convince them to work together for the larger goal of building the temple, irrespective of who is part of the trust. 

“The government does not want the differences between the different factions to spill out in the open once the trust is formed,” the source quoted above said. “So, the home ministry is taking some time before bringing out the notification, which will have names of who all will be part of the trust.”

Government sources said the trust is likely to have 11 members. It will be a mix of religious heads who had been involved in the movement to build the Ram temple at Ayodhya, saints and three to four government officials. The officials likely to be part of the trust could include the union home secretary or the culture secretary and the Ayodhya district magistrate, among others. 


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Religious groups that want to be part of the trust

Maintaining that the government should form the trust at the earliest, Mahant Kamalnayan Das of Maniramdas Chhavani in Ayodhya told ThePrint that Mahant Nritya Gopaldas, chief of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, should be made its head.  

Nritya Gopaldas considers Kamalnayan Das his religious successor. “Even I will want to be a part of the trust, provided the government makes me a member. But it will be good if Guruji (Nritya Gopaldas) becomes the head of the trust,” Das said.      

The Nirmohi Akhara, one of the main petitioners from the Hindu side in the Ayodhya title dispute case, also wants to be part of the central trust.

Durgesh Shukla, a close associate of Mahant Dinendra Das, head of the Nirmohi Akhara, told ThePrint, “We are also waiting for the notification of the trust. Though it’s the government that will decide what role it will give us, it’s almost certain that we will be made part of the trust.”

Nirmohi Akhara is a powerful Hindu sect with temples across Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. 

The Digambar Akhara, another religious group, also wants to be included in the trust. Mahant Suresh Das of the Digambar Akhara told ThePrint, “We should also be made part of the trust as our chief, Mahant Paramhans Das, has fought for Ram Lalla and the construction of temple since 1949. However, we will accept whoever the government designates as the chief of the trust.” 

A source in the Ministry of Home Affairs said some concerns by certain groups regarding leadership of the trust were brought to their notice.

“The process to form the trust is not over yet. It’s in progress,” the source said. “There were concerns regarding membership of the trust but no more information is available on the same.” 

MHA spokesperson Vasudha Gupta, however, denied having any such information. “We have no information on this so far,” Gupta said.

Differences had cropped up soon after SC judgment 

Differences between the religious groups had cropped up soon after the Supreme Court’s Ayodhya judgment on 9 November, which paved the way for the construction of Ram Temple at the disputed site. 

Mahant Nritya Gopaldas of Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas had said the Ram temple would be built under his trust and that there was no need for the government to set up another one. He, however, retracted his statement later and said he would accept whatever the government decides.  

Another religious head, Swami Avimukteshwaranand, secretary of the Ramalaya Trust, had told the local media in Prayagraj that if the government does not give it the responsibility of building the temple, it would knock on the court’s door.       

There is also a lot of tension about the fate of the Ram temple model, which has been readied at Karsevak Puram by the Vishva Hindu Parishad and its affiliate, the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas. 

“The temple model at Karsevak Puram was readied long back and it has been accepted among the Hindus as the model of the actual temple that will come up at Ayodhya,” said a senior VHP functionary. “Whatever funds that we have collected till date was based on this temple model only. It will not be fair now to replace it with another model.” 


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