BJP sees Centre’s move to return undisputed land in Ayodhya to owners as step towards Ram temple construction
BJP leaders on Tuesday sought to present the central government’s move to return undisputed land in Ayodhya to its original owners, including Ram Janambhoomi Nyas, as a step towards starting “work” on building a Ram temple in the holy city of Uttar Pradesh.Updated: Jan 29, 2019 20:59 IST
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has made a “political statement” about its commitment to build a Ram Temple in Ayodhya with the Centre moving the Supreme Court, seeking its permission to hand over 42 acres of excess land surrounding the disputed site to the Ram Janambhoomi Nyas (RJN), a senior minister said on Tuesday. The RJN is the trust overseeing the Ram temple plan.
The move was discussed at the highest level in the government for “last 7-8 days” before the government decided to file the petition in the apex court, the minister said speaking on the condition of anonymity.
This also comes a day before the “Dhararm Sansad” — a gathering of Hindu saints — begins a key meeting at the Kumbh Mela in Prayag where the temple issue may be taken up. BJP chief Amit Shah is expected to take part in the congregation on Wednesday.
Later on Tuesday, human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar said at a press conference that the Centre was not touching the disputed area and it would be up to Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas what it does with the land returned to it and the government would not interfere in that.
“Today government has taken a very important in-principle decision to return the excess land which was acquired in 1994 to the original land owners. One of the land owners of 42 acres out of 67 acres land is Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas. Government wants to return the land to its original owners and they want to build the Ram temple there,” Javadekar told reporters.
He maintained that the BJP has always said that a temple should be built in Ayodhya through a legal route and government’s step is a legal step. “We are confident that the government will get permission from the court at the earliest,” he said.
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement earlier this month that the government will wait for the judicial process in the temple issue to be over, the ruling party seems to be under pressure from Hindu saints to make some concrete moves. Some groups have even suggested that government should bring an ordinance to build the temple.
“Our people are certainly anxious with the delay (in deciding the case),” said the senior minister quoted above. “Tuesday’s petition is a political statement that reiterates our commitment to building Ram temple. We are not apologetic about it,” he added.
A Ram temple in Ayodhya has been a key election promise of the BJP since it first adopted a resolution to this effect during its national executive meeting in Palampur in June 1989. It sought resolution of the dispute through mutual dialogue or an enabling legislation.
The minister said, “Tuesday’s petition is one of the several constitutional measures that the Prime Minister has spoken about to resolve the issue.”
The BJP sensed an urgency to address its core constituency after its loss in three assembly elections in the Hindi heartland. Besides, there had been a growing unease within its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, over the delay in Ayodhya dispute case in the apex court.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told news agency ANI that a solution to the Ram temple issue would be found under the ambit of the Constitution. “Let the judicial process be over. After the judicial process is over, whatever will be our responsibility as the government, we are ready to make all efforts,” Modi had said.
Within hours of Modi’s interview, the RSS had said that people who voted for the party in 2014, after it promised in its manifesto that it would build a Ram temple in Ayodhya, want that promise fulfilled.
“People of the country put their faith in the BJP and voted them to power with a majority...now people expect the government to fulfil that promise during their current tenure,” RSS joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale had said.