The Ayodhya temple issue flared up in Rajya Sabha Wednesday, the last day of the winter session, with the Congress, BSP and JD(U) accusing the BJP and the RSS of attempting to “communally polarise” Uttar Pradesh as part of a “strategy” for the 2017 assembly elections. The government rejected the charge, but had a tough time explaining why fresh stocks of carved stones meant for the temple had arrived in Ayodhya.
Raising the issue, K C Tyagi of JD(U) said two truckloads of stones for the construction of the temple had arrived early this week. Such activities, he said, are being planned to “charge up the atmosphere”. He drew attention of the House to a statement by Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, chief of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, that the government at the Centre had signalled that the temple will be built now.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said stone-carving for construction of the temple had been going at a place some 1.5 km away from the disputed site since 1990.
He said the position of both the government and the BJP is that the court decision on the matter will have to be accepted. There was no ban on carving of stones, he said, adding that it did not mean that the Ram temple was being built. “Please wait for the court decision… All of us should respect it,” he said.
But Opposition members trooped to the well and raised slogans like “UP mein dange ki saazish bandh karo (Stop conspiring to trigger riots in UP)”.
Deputy Chairman P J Kurien, who was in the chair, said there was no confusion after the minister’s statement that the government and party will abide by the court verdict. “It is unnecessary”, he said, pointing at the Opposition protest in the well. His efforts to restore order failed and, Kurien had to adjourn the House for 10 minutes.
After the House sat again, Pramod Tiwari of the Congress said the matter was pending in the Supreme Court. He wondered how people outside could take it up. Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh suggested that Tyagi, who was interrupted in between, be allowed to complete his statement.
Kurien, however, maintained that since the government had already made it clear that it would “go by the court order”, there was no need to raise it again.
Outside Rajya Sabha, BSP chief Mayawati told reporters: “This has been the agenda of the BJP and RSS for a long time, but the Central government should apply the brakes on such people.” She also lashed out at the SP: “If the Supreme Court order to maintain status quo on the site is violated, then the SP will be responsible as the ruling party in the state.”
Pramod Tiwari said it was “typical of the BJP and its sister organisations to rake up communal issues before every assembly election” in UP. There was a long list ranging from rath yatra to shila pujan, he said.
JD(U) president Sharad Yadav told reporters that the BJP may try all tactics “but this time around, people have understood their design”. “Their tricks failed to work in Bihar. Now, we will counter them in Uttar Pradesh too,” he said.