With the SC saying it had “other business” to attend,the saffron brigade has upped the ante on their demand for an ordinance route to pave way for the construction of a Ram Temple
The Supreme Court’s decision to take up the Ram temple issue in January today has had mixed reactions from both stakeholders in the dispute and may prove a shot in the arm for the ruling BJP government’s demand to take the ordinance route to facilitate early construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.
It seems unlikely that the Supreme Court is eager to take a decision on the issue before General Elections 2019.The move may also backfire, giving chance to right wingers to stoke passions on the issue and make capital of the same before the Elections 2019.
In the wake of the SC’s decision to defer the next hearing till January, as it had “other priorities”, several BJP leaders and Sangh outfits voiced their frustration as they felt the judicial process was “getting delayed”.
The court’s decision came after just a four-minute hearing. “We have other priorities,” a bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said. Soon after the hearing in the top court, Union Minister Giriraj Singh sounded an ominous warning, saying he feared the consequences if there was a further delay in building the temple.
“Ab Hinduon ka sabr toot raha hai. Mujhe bhay hai ki Hinduon ka sabr tuta toh kya hoga (Hindus are losing patience now. I am afraid of what would follow),” Giriraj Singh, currently the Minister of State for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises said, adding that “the court was not needed to solve the dispute.”
Other right wing leaders like Vinay Katiyar have joined in the dissent and stepping up the demand for building of the Ram temple at the site. Katiyar, who played a major role in the clamor against the Babri masjid at the height of the controversy and is known for his fiery speeches in favor of a Hindutva agenda has alleged that the issue was being delayed “under pressure” from the Congress. The latter has denied the charge.
“People like Kapil Sibal and Prashant Bhushan are pressing for delaying the issue. Till when will Ram bhakts (devotees) wait? In 2019, the Congress will come to know,” Katiyar stated to the media today.
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, on Monday said the appropriate bench will decide the future course of hearing in January next year on the appeals filed against the Allahabad High Court verdict in the Ayodhya land dispute case.
“We will fix the date of hearing of the Ayodhya dispute case before the appropriate bench in January,” said the bench, which also comprised Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph.
Now the BJP and its supporting parties like the Shiv Sena are upping the ante for an ordinance on the same. Sena leader Sanjay Raut today said the Ram temple was an issue of faith and demanded that the government comes out with an ordinance soon. “It is a matter of faith. The court cannot decide on this. The government should bring an ordinance,” he said.
It was RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, who, in his recent annual Vijayadashmi address, asked the government to bring a law too. Pressure on the BJP to bring an ordinance has grown ever since, especially keeping in mind the 2019 general elections. The BJP has always tom-tommed the temple issue as a strongpoint on its agenda and is banking on escalating public sentiment on the same to enable it to ride to victory in the general elections.
Reactions from the major Opposition party have been more balanced and measured. Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said it was a familiar story every five years before the elections when the BJP tries to polarize the issue. “The Congress’s stated position is that the matter is before the Supreme Court and everyone should wait until the Supreme Court decides… We should not jump the gun,” he told the media on Monday.
“If someone asks for an ordinance, the Prime Minister has to respond to them, but as you know, he will not respond to any issue,” Chidambaram said, reacting to a question on possibility of an ordinance for construction of the temple. He however added that an ordinance has to be decided by the government and not by Parliament. He added that religion is a matter of faith and linking this issue to the vote bank politics will be a disservice to the nation. Reacting to allegations by some BJP leaders that the delay was under pressure from some Congress leaders, Chidambaram said, “The Supreme Court will decide when to hear the case. We don’t decide when the court will hear the case.”
“If they have the courage, they should bring an Ordinance on Ram Temple construction. They are trying to scare us about bringing an Ordinance, why don’t they bring it, stated the fiery All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Asaddudin Owaisi who has openly dared the government to bring an ordinance on the issue.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) working president Alok Kumar has stated, “The Supreme Court has once again adjourned the hearing. This fortifies the VHP’s stand that the solution to the Ram Janambhoomi issue is not in eternally waiting for hearing of appeals pending for over seven years. We reiterate our request to the Union government to enact a law to clear the way for building a grand temple of Lord Ram at his birthplace in Ayodhya,” Kumar averred.
Earlier this month, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had sought a law to enable construction of Ram temple, saying it was necessary for Hindu “self-esteem” and to usher in an “atmosphere of goodwill and oneness”.
It is expected that the VHP will bring up the issue at its two-day ‘Dharam Sansad’, a meeting of seers, on January 31 and February 1 next year to discuss the Ram temple issue on the sidelines of the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad.