In the debate over calling a joint session of Parliament to push through the land acquisition Bill, the BJP finds itself in a bind with a section of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) demanding that the same route be taken for construction of a Ram temple at the disputed Ayodhya site.
The VHP has not sent any formal word yet to the BJP leadership but some of its leaders have broached the issue, even taken it up with the RSS leadership, BJP sources said.
This demand became audible after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh cited the government’s lack of majority in the Rajya Sabha as a hurdle in construction of the temple in Ayodhya.
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At a programme of a senior VHP leader last week in Ayodhya, Singh had said, “BJP does not have a majority in Rajya Sabha, so this time it is not possible to bring a motion in Parliament to make a law for the construction of the Ram temple.”
In May 2011, the Supreme Court stayed the Allahabad High Court verdict dividing the disputed site in three parts and directed that status quo be maintained.
The Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act, 1993 is also in place.
Through this law, enacted after the destruction of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, the government had acquired the disputed area, including the inner and outer courtyards, to maintain public order and communal harmony.
To facilitate construction of a temple there, the law has to be repealed or abrogated before the area can be handed over to the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas. But repeal of this Act will need approval of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
VHP leaders see a way out through a joint session of Parliament.
When contacted, VHP’s Pravin Togadia told The Indian Express: “Let them bring it first… We will decide then, at the appropriate time.”
The government’s attempts to push the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill despite stiff opposition from right groups including the Bhartiya Kisan Sangh and Swadeshi Jagran Manch, both affiliated to the RSS, has upset the VHP.
“Whatever the Kisan Sangh says on the land Bill, we will support,” Togadia said.
The VHP has maintained that its agitation for the Ram temple will continue and has nothing to do with the government’s stance.
VHP leader Surendra Kumar Jain said, “We do not bother about what the government will do and how it will do. Constructing a temple in Ayodhya has been a promise given by the BJP in its manifesto and if it doesn’t keep its promise, people will give a reply,” he said.
Asked if the VHP has demanded that the government explore possibilities like convening a joint session, Jain said, “The VHP has not taken any stand on it officially. Individual leaders may have spoken about it.”
A BJP general secretary said, “There will be always people in the VHP and the RSS who want the government to take extreme steps for the temple. They are many such people… So, we cannot sell them an argument the party lacks a majority in Parliament.”
According to this leader, there is a “strong view in the RSS and even among some in the BJP” that the government should be ready to call a joint session for the Ram temple if is keen to adopt such a move for the land Bill.