Union minister and senior BJP leader Uma Bharti, a prominent face of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, welcomes the Supreme Court decision on mediation, but says that only a Ram temple can be constructed at the site. Excerpts from an interview to The Indian Express:
Do you think the Supreme Court’s move for mediation will find a solution to the dispute?
It is clear the Supreme Court is very keen to sort it out. It is a good thing. The appointed mediators should keep in mind — I am not questioning them, they are appointed by the court — that nothing can be constructed there except the temple. Because the court itself had accepted that the centre of that structure is Ram Janmabhoomi, the birthplace of Ram Lalla. We must remember that one party in this dispute itself is Ram Lalla Viraajman. The way to be found is how to construct a temple there. Except the temple, nothing can be constructed.
Are you saying the mediation process should be only on how to construct the temple?
I am no one to give them advice or guidelines. This is my right to say this, a right I inherited from my ancestors and which will be transferred to future generations, that it is the birthplace of Lord Ram and we want to see a temple there. When I went to Italy, I visited the Vatican to see the Pope. I go to Ajmer Dargah also. I cannot go to Mecca. If somebody says there should be a temple in Mecca Medina, I will oppose it. I will oppose if someone wants to build a masjid in Vatican city. I want a similar stand from Muslims and Christians for my demand for a temple in Ayodhya, and nothing else can be built there. There should be a national consensus for this. This country is secular — there are masjids in Faizabad, Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh and across India. But that site is special, it is the birthplace of Lord Ram. The court has proved it. I am a person who is facing trial in my fight for this.
Do you think that processes like mediation efforts would further delay temple construction, as some say?
Although Left journalists used to ridicule our faith, saying Ram is a mythological character and that there is no birth certificate etc, there was a long fight. After long years of fight, Hindus got together to own the place after Independence. Jawaharlal Nehru spoiled it for appeasement politics. It was very easy to sort it out in 1949, but he did not. When the court said in 2010 that the site was Ram Lalla’s birthplace, I was very happy. I felt a fight of 500 years had achieved its mission. Now the question is only how to construct the temple.
We should not oppose it, because the court is trying to solve the issue.
I am appealing to all political parties to join together to create a sentiment in favour of Ram Mandir, so that it will be an advantage of the nation, not just the BJP’s.
So you see it as a positive move towards construction of the temple?
The court is trying. I will not comment on the mediation team. I too was part of a movement. I was part of Vishwa Hindu Parishad. But now only the BJP cannot claim the patent for Ram. Every party has people who want the temple to be constructed. I am just saying nothing can be built there except Ram temple. It is my right to see a Ram Temple there.
Hindus are considered to be tolerant. We may have a few as intolerant. By suggesting there could be something else other than Ram temple — some said there could be a museum and some said there could be toilets — you are making that segment stronger. When you question the very existence of Ram, you are promoting these elements whom even we oppose. Do not be sarcastic about the Hindu’s tolerance. Don’t make the Hindus experimental guinea pigs.
You said the patience of Hindus is being tested.
We have done so much for it. Many BJP governments were dismissed during the struggle for temple construction, although no ministers in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh had participated in Kar Seva. And now if you say build this there, build that there, how can it be accepted? Would anyone have the courage to say there should be a Hanuman Mandir in Vatican City or Mecca Medina? You respect them because they are proud Christians and proud Muslims. I am a proud Hindu, why should I tolerate such demands? When you talk like this, those elements, the intolerant lot will blame us also for being tolerant. So, I request all the parties to find a solution together. It can be one like Somnath one. Somnath Temple was constructed unopposed.
Are you saying the party and organisations fighting for the temple have touched a threshold in their patience for a solution?
Hindus have tolerated a lot, their tolerance has no limit. But I am saying this is the right moment to find a solution by all parties. But see how the tolerance is abused. When the court order came in September 2010, our Sarsanghchalak said there was no need to be so jubilant. Muslim community also was quiet. So, who do provoke this nation? Those who are hungry for the votes! I am scared of them — all the parties are part of it, be it the Congress or Left. Left may be less in number but very poisonous. Politicians should not talk about it. But it cannot be like this that everyone will talk and BJP will keep quiet. If we are made fun of, we will also speak. But we want all parties to come together to build a temple there.
No one can move Ram Lalla an inch from there. The question is just about the structure, so everyone should sincerely try for it.