AMID A campaign by the VHP, the RSS and others demanding legislation to enable construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, a look at the demands made by these groups over the years, and the promises by the BJP:
From the beginning of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, the RSS and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) have held the view that building a Ram temple in Ayodhya is a matter of faith and not one for courts. In 1986, the RSS Pratinidhi Sabha passed a resolution urging the government “to hand over the Janmabhoomi site and adjacent land to the Ram Janmabhoomi Trust for the purpose of developing the hallowed spot in a befitting manner”. In another resolution in 1987, it referred to the renovation of Somnath temple and said, “The ancient but dilapidated Ram Janmabhoomi temple too needs to be restored to its old glory.”
In 1989, a meeting of the RSS Kendriya Karyakari Mandal passed a resolution reminding then PM Rajiv Gandhi of his comment that he was instrumental in withdrawal of a case in Calcutta High Court by observing that courts do not have jurisdiction on the holy Quran. It said the same government was making Ram Janmabhoomi debatable in courts and called this a “discriminatory policy”.
BJP: Initial years
The BJP first came out in the open in 1989, with a resolution at its national executive meeting in Palampur (Himachal Pradesh): “People’s faith must be respected and Ram Janmabhoomi should be handed over to Hindus. It should be resolved through mutual dialogue between the two communities or, if this was not possible, through an enabling legislation. Litigation is in no way a solution for this matter.”
In 1990, when the BJP was supporting the V P Singh-headed government from outside, the VHP was preparing to start construction of a Ram temple from February but postponed it on the PM’s request. At a meeting in Hardwar in June, the VHP announced October 30 as a “non-negotiable” date. Meanwhile, BJP’s L K Advani launched a Ram Rath Yatra from Somnath on September 25 before the Bihar government arrested him in Bhagalpur on October 23, leading to the BJP withdrawing support to the V P Singh government.
In its 1991 manifesto, the BJP said, “The party is committed to build(ing) Shri Ram Mandir at Janmasthan by relocating superimposed Babri structure with due respect.”
It was in December 1992 that the structure was demolished.
BJP: Vajpayee regime
In its 1996 manifesto, the BJP said, “After coming to power the BJP will remove all obstacles in the way of construction of a great temple of Shri Ram in Ayodhya…” Its 1996 government under A B Vajpayee lasted 13 days. Heading a coalition (NDA) in 1998 and 1999, the BJP chose to keep controversial issues on the backburner. In 2001, when the VHP restarted a movement in Ayodhya, it got no support from the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in UP. In 2003, the BJP National Executive passed a resolution in Raipur: “Even though the common agenda of the NDA makes no mention of a legislative initiative to resolve the Ayodhya issue, the BJP is of the view that this alternative too should be explored. This is what our party had stated in its Palampur resolution. In the present Parliament, the legislative approach would be fruitful if our allies in the NDA as well as the parties in the Opposition, especially the Congress, extend their support.”
In 2004, the ruling NDA went for early elections with its National Agenda for Governance, which said, “The NDA believes that an early and amicable resolution of the Ayodhya issue will strengthen national integration. We continue to hold that the judiciary’s verdict in this matter should be accepted by all. At the same time, efforts should be intensified for dialogue and a negotiated settlement in an atmosphere of mutual trust and goodwill.”
BJP: After Vajpayee
In its 2009 manifesto, the BJP (then out of power) said, “There is an overwhelming desire of the people in India and abroad to have a grand temple at the birthplace of Sri Ram in Ayodhya. The BJP will explore all possibilities, including negotiations and judicial proceedings, to facilitate the construction…”
In its manifesto for the 2014 elections, the BJP said: “The BJP reiterates its stand to explore all possibilities within the framework of the Constitution to facilitate the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya.”
In the latest aggressive campaign, with RSS and VHP leaders demanding legislation to enable building a temple, BJP MP Rakesh Sinha was present at the rally in Delhi on December 9. Sinha has said he would bring a private member’s Bill on the matter.