The BJP and the Congress were engaged in a war of words after the Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned the hearing on Ayodhya dispute to February 8. Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, who represents the Sunni Waqf Board in the court, urged the court to defer the hearing on the matter till 2019 Lok Sabha elections, considering the political atmosphere in the country. However, his plea was rejected by the apex court.
The bench took serious note of the submission of Kapil Sibal that the appeals be heard in July 2019 after completion of the next Lok Sabha polls as the atmosphere at present was not conducive. Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, vehemently opposed contentions that the pleadings were not complete and asserted that everything has been complied with and the cases were ripe for hearing.
Reacting to Sibal’s stand, BJP president Amit Shah said it’s very surprising for a Congress leader to appeal for a Muslim body and appealing for defering of a case related to Ram temple at a time when Rahul Gandhi is visisting temples as part of his election strategy. “Today a surprising stand was taken in Supreme Court by Congress leader and Sunni Waqf Board lawyer Kapil Sibal ji, he said hearing should be deferred till after 2019 LS polls. Congress should clear its stand on this,” Shah was quoted a s saying by the ANI. He added, “Rahul ji is visiting temples in Gujarat but on the other hand Kapil Sibal is being used to delay Ram janmbhoomi case. Rahul ji should tell us what is his view on this.”
While trying to corner the opposition Congress over Sibal’s submission in the apex court, BJP spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao said, “By seeking deferment of the Ayodhya case until after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Kapil Sibal has politicised the legal dispute. The Congress must clarify if Sibal is representing it or the Sunni Waqf Board? Or, is it the case that the board and the Congress are working in tandem?” “Rather than seeking an early resolution to this vexed legal issue, why is the Congress party trying to perpetuate uncertainty,” PTI quoted Rao as saying.
Taking strong exception to Shah’s remark, Congress hit out at the BJP chief saying it should be lawyer’s personal choice who he wants to represent in court. “Who he represents in court is Kapil Sibal’s personal matter, Congress has nothing to do with it. Arun Jaitley ji was the lawyer in Bhopal gas tragedy, does that mean whole of BJP is to be blamed?,” said Congress leader Randeep Surjewala in a press conference.
Surjewala also asserted party’s stand that it will always stand by Supreme Court’s verdict in the matter. “Congress stand has always been clear, that Ayodhya case will be decided by SC, same has been said by the Law Minister many times. BJP is playing the role of ‘Manthara’,” clarified Surjewala.
The Supreme Court was hearing the plea challenging the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute. A three-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court, in a 2:1 majority ruling, had ordered that the land be partitioned equally among three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and the deity, Ram Lalla.