At a time when RSS affiliates have ratcheted up the Ayodhya temple issue ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections early next year, the BJP on Friday sought to distance itself from the issue, citing its stand in the 2014 manifesto about exploring “all possibilities within the framework of the Constitution”.
“If you read it (manifesto), you will find that it is mentioned there as to how we intend to work on them,” BJP president Amit Shah said on Friday in response to queries about the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya and abrogation of Article 370 providing special status to Jammu & Kahsmir.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh told a TV channel that the issue of Ram Mandir is “sub-judice” amd “we should wait for the court judgement”.
The party’s measured stance on this issue comes in the backdrop of a renewed campaign by Sangh Parivar affiliates, as also BJP MP Subramanian Swamy, for the construction of the temple. Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), which had earlier put a moratorium on this issue, has changed stance and is collecting stones for the construction of the temple. Swamy has approached the Supreme Court with a plea to intervene with the government to allow the Hindus to re-build the temple. Last month, an organization founded by late VHP leader Ashok Singhal went ahead with a seminar on Ram Janma Bhoomi Temple at Delhi university and despite protests by a section of students.
On Friday, Amit Shah evaded giving a definitive reply on how the long-standing demand for a temple in Ayodhya will be met. He chose to refer to the last party manifesto, which was rather ambivalent about the party’s future course of action (see graphics). During the previous NDA regime, BJP leaders used to argue that it was not able to implement its Ram temple agenda as it didn’t have a majority and was heading a coalition government. Narendra Modi government has skirted this issue choosing to go to electorate on development plank.
Shah on Friday also sought to distance itself from the Bajrang Dal, which has triggered a controversy by releasing a video on self-defence training showing terrorists in skull caps and robes. Asked about this, the BJP president said, “People should focus on what the government has to say.” The Samajwadi Party, which the BJP sees as its prime contender in UP has been accusing the BJP of using outfits like Bajrang Dal to cleave the electorate on the basis of religion.