The BJP has not forgotten the Ram temple at Ayodhya entirely. It will find mention in the party’s forthcoming manifesto, slated for release next week, possibly on April 3, Ram Navami.
Keeping in mind the sensitivities of its allies, however, the party’s stance on the Ram temple will not be unduly aggressive. It will reiterate that the temple should be built after the dispute over it is amicably settled between Hindus and Muslims, or following a court verdict allowing construction.
The Ram temple is being mentioned to reassure the party’s hardline supporters, like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, that its Hindu agenda had not been entirely abandoned. Other fractious issues like the need for a uniform civil code and the abolition of Article 370 of the Constitution, conferring special status on Jammu and Kashmir, will also be referred to, but not given any undue emphasis.
The party is working on a separate national agenda for governance that will not mention these ideological issues at all. Before the 1999 and 2004 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP did not issue a separate manifesto, but only the agenda for governance.
The main focus of the manifesto will be on economic issues. It will seek to counter the Congress’ promise for supply of rice at Rs 3 for BPL families and make a commitment for providing jobs.