Ram temple issue figures in PM Modi’s I-Day address address
The construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya figured in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech on Saturday.
“Ten days ago, the construction of the temple has begun…A peaceful resolution to Ram Janmabhoomi issue is unprecedented. The peace and understanding that the people showed is not only unprecedented but will serve as an inspiration for us in the future,” Modi said from the ramparts of the Red Fort.
On August 5, Modi laid the first brick of the Ram Mandir at a grand “bhoomi pujan” ceremony in Ayodhya, and said the day will stand as a symbol of the commitment of several generations that devoted their lives to the construction of the temple.
The beginning of the construction work comes after a 135-year-old legal dispute culminated when the Supreme Court, last November, awarded the disputed land to Hindu parties. It also comes in the wake of a three-decade-long mobilisation by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ideological affiliates, and the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 — an act declared illegal by the same SC verdict — that led to communal violence and deaths in various parts of the country.
Modi making a reference to the Ram temple issue, which formed the pivot of the BJP’s journey, was not a political statement, a senior BJP functionary said. “It was said in a way of recollecting the events of the year gone by. It was not a political statement but an account given to the people,” said the functionary, requesting anonymity.
Hari Desai, a Gujarat-based political commentator, said the mention of Ram temple in the PM’s speech was not out of place or inappropriate. He said, however, there should have also been a mention of the land given for the construction of a mosque near Ayodhya. “It would have just given confidence to the people of this country that the SC’s judgment has been respected,” he said.
A proposed mosque coming up is on a five-acre site outside Ayodhya and is likely to be named after the village of Dhannipur where it is located.
The Uttar Pradesh government handed the plot, currently occupied by rice fields 20km from Ayodhya town, to the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board earlier this month in accordance with the top court’s verdict that cleared the way for the construction of a Ram temple and also ordered the government to award five acres of land at an alternative site for the construction of a mosque.
CPI general secretary D Raja was critical of Modi’s speech. “He failed to address the issues of unemployment and poverty but mentioned Ayodhya, which exposed him completely,” he said.