Playing to the sentiments of BJP rank and file, party president Rajnath Singh brought the Ayodhya issue back to the forefront of BJP's Hindutva plank ahead of UP polls.
A grand Ram temple would be built at the disputed site in Ayodhya through a law enacted by Parliament when the BJP gained a majority on its own in the General Elections, Singh declared before the party's national council soon after it ratified his election as party chief for three years.
Amid applause from hundreds of BJP delegates, Singh anounced that the BJP was committed to building grand temple at the spot where the makeshift temple stood in place of the razed Babri Masjid.
Singh said the BJP could not fulfill its commitment towards the Ram temple in the last six years because of a coalition government the party lead and had to stick to an agenda of governance in which the temple was out of question.
"Today or tomorrow, a grand temple for Lord Ram is going to be built there. Give us a mandate for a government on our own and we will build the temple through a law," said Singh, who was under pressure from UP leaders like Kalyan Singh to come clear the Ayodhya issue.
BJP MLAs from UP who are seeking re-election hailed Singh's declaration, saying that it will end confusion and public impression that the saffron party has put the issue on the backburner. Said BJP MLA from Lucknow East Vidya Sagar Gupta, "it has cleared the air and enthused cadres." BJP MLA from Bijnaur Bhatendu Singh said, "People will be happy to hear our commitment."
Striking a strident note, the BJP chief challenged the Congress and the Samajwadi Party to declare again that they were committed to re-erecting the demolished masjid at that spot. He referred to posters put up by some groups in Delhi, demanding rebuilding of the mosque on the anniversary of the demolition on December 6.
"Soon after the demolition, then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao and Mulayam Singh Yadav pledged to rebuilt the masjid. Do they continue to stand by the commitment? The BJP is clear that only a grand temple for Lord Ram should be built at that place."
He said the BJP always believed that a solution to the issue could be found by the Hindus and Muslims settling for a negotiated solution, or by a court verdict in favour of the Ram temple, or by a legislation approved by Parliament.
The BJP chief who also declared that the party had not budged from its stand on core RSS issues like Article 370 and uniform civil code, said despite a terrorist attack at the site and possibility of such attempts in the future, the Congress, Samajwadi Party and the Left parties were engaging in "pure politics" on the issue of erecting a bullet-proof enclosure for the "Ram Lala" idols.
"Can there be anything more fatal and ridiculous than letting political pulls decide on whether a sensitive spot should be bullet proof? The government says it will talk to political parties for a consensus."
Accusing the Congress of divisive politics, Singh said the UPA was not at all serious about a solution to the Ayodhya issue. "In the last two and half years, neither the government nor the Prime Minister has taken any step towards resolving the issue. The Congress president has not spoken a word on this subject so far. What more, the Ayodhya cell set up by Vajpayee has been disbanded."
Singh said the prime minister should revive the cell and begin a dialogue with the organisations and religious leaders involved with this movement.