As the Sangh Parivar mounts pressure for early construction of the Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, BJP MPs raised the issue Tuesday at a meeting of the parliamentary party, asking the government what stand had it taken on the issue.
At least three BJP MPs who attended the meeting told The Indian Express that Ravindra Kushwaha, MP from Salempur, stood up towards the end of the meeting, and asked what was happening to the construction of the Ram temple. Several MPs from Uttar Pradesh and other parts of the country joined him. Hari Narayan Rajbhar, MP from Ghosi, wanted to know whether the government planned to bring a Bill to facilitate temple construction.
Sources said Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told the MPs that Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who presided over the meeting, would respond to their questions. Singh requested them to remain calm, saying it was an issue close to the heart of every party leader and everyone wanted to see the temple come up. He asked them to have faith. The meeting dispersed without further discussion on the matter.
These developments took place on a day when both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah were not present in the Capital.
When he was reached for comment, Kushwaha said: “Whatever I have said was within the parliamentary party meeting forum. I should not disclose it.”
Rajbhar told The Indian Express: “Yes, I raised the issue at the meeting and asked the government when will the Bill be brought. Rajnathji asked us to wait… When the domes were brought down in 1992, no one had taken permission of the court. Now the controversial structure doesn’t even exist there. So people should build the temple. It’s a matter of faith.”
Another senior party MP from Uttar Pradesh, who did not wish to be named, said: “The entire audience joined him (Kushwaha). It’s very important to us.” Rajbhar did not respond to calls.
The raising of the temple issue at the parliamentary party meeting, a senior BJP MP said, indicates the “growing uneasiness” among MPs who “come under pressure from the party’s core support base and associates belonging to the Sangh Parivar”.
Two months ago, RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat, in his Vijayadashami address, said: “\The construction of the temple is necessary from the self-esteem point of view; it will also pave the way for an atmosphere of goodwill and oneness in the country. This matter of national interest is being obstructed by some fundamentalist elements and forces that play communal politics for selfish gains. Despite such machinations, the decision regarding ownership of the land should be expedited, and the government should clear the path for construction of the grand temple through an appropriate and requisite law.”
Hearing of appeals against the Allahabad High Court order on the Ayodhya title suit are to resume next month once the Supreme Court decides a bench. In recent weeks, the VHP has been organising gatherings to mount pressure on the government.
A section of BJP MPs, a party leader said, believe that reviving the demand for the Ram temple is necessary to keep the party’s core support base intact, especially after the defeats in the Hindi heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.