New Delhi: A senior Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader today demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi "gift" Ram temple at Ayodhya to a leading Hindutva figure Ashok Singhal on his 90th birth day.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and several Union ministers, including Home Minister Rajnath Singh, were present when the suggestion was made by former VHP president Vishnu Hari Dalmia at an event where a book on the life of VHP patron Singhal was released.
Singhal had played a key role in the 'Ram Janmabhoomi' movement that led to the demolition of Babri mosque in 1992 by Hindutva activists and construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site has been a long-standing demand of the right wing outfits.
BJP has also supported the demand for a Ram temple, but contended it will do so by exploring all possibilities within the framework of the Constitution. The matter is under Supreme Court's scrutiny.
"There is a tradition of giving gift to people on their birthday. I will tell Prime Minister Modi to gift him (Singhal) him temple. Rajnathji is here and he can convey this to Modi," Dalmiya said amid cheers by RSS and VHP activists.
However, all other speakers, including Bhagwat, Singh and Singhal, made no mention of the controversial issue.
Singh said if there was any pioneer of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, it was Singhal.
"There is this ancient belief that Hindutva is a way of life and a humane religion. Ashok Singhal is a firm believer in this. He has become an institution," Singh said, noting though many people did not agree with Singhal's views.
Bhagwat said Singhal devoted his life to the country and Hindu religion. He had his opinion on issues but he always gave primacy to organisational discipline, the RSS chief said, hailing him and asked others to follow his path.
Union ministers Harsh Vardhan, Mahesh Sharma and Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti were among those present.