The BJP on Tuesday said the Centre’s plea in the Supreme Court to permit it to return the excess land around the disputed site in Ayodhya to the original owners (Shri Ram Janam Bhumi Nyas), was the “least it could do” looking at the “sentiment attached to Ram mandir”. It also maintained that the move “would not affect the main case”.
BJP general secretary Ram Madhav made the remarks in a Facebook post. The move was much awaited and a “welcome one,” he said.
The move is the strongest indication of the government’s intention to construct a Ram temple and mollify an upset Sangh Parivar cadre.
From RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat to the VHP’s (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) council of monks, there had been a demand from the larger Sangh Parivar for a proactive move by the government for building a temple. The government's move on Tuesday is likely to give it some political space on the issue.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar welcomed the government’s move, stating that it was a “legal step” and did not detract from the government’s commitment to a legal solution to the issue.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s negative response to a question on whether the government was contemplating an ordinance to facilitate the construction of a Ram temple had dispirited the Sangh Parivar cadre, specifically the VHP.
BJP’s political losses late last year
With cadre sentiment downcast after the BJP’s political losses late last year in the Hindi heartland States of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, and with the general election around the corner, the government and the party had been casting about for ways to reassure them.
The move on temple land was welcomed by VHP’s international working president Alok Kumar, who had been leading the campaign for an ordinance for temple construction. “The VHP hopes that the Supreme Court shall expeditiously decide on the application filed by the government,” he said.
Mr. Javadekar was quite explicit, saying the government had taken an important decision to seek permission to return the undisputed land to its original owners who, he added, wanted to “build a Ram temple” there.
Asked about the Congress questioning the timing of the government decision, just weeks before the Lok Sabha election, Mr. Javadekar said the Opposition party “never believed in the existence of Lord Ram”.
'Govt not touching disputed land'
Underlining that the government was not touching the disputed land, Mr. Javadekar said only 0.313 acres was disputed where the title suit was yet to be decided.
“Today, the government took a very important decision in principle to return the excess land, which was acquired in 1994, to the original landowners,” he said.
“Out of 67 acres of undisputed land, the landowner of 42 acres is the Ram Janam Bhumi Nyas. The government wants to return the land to its original owners and they want to build a Ram temple there,” he added.