Amid a growing chorus of varied voices seeking a legislation for construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, BJP MP Rakesh Sinha on Thursday said he would bring a private member’s Bill in this regard and asked Opposition leaders if they would support him.
While Sinha tweeted about the Bill, the BJP reiterated that it stands by its pledge taken in the Palampur conclave that the party would strive for the construction of a Ram temple through constitutional measures.
Sinha, a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha, asked if leaders such as SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, BSP chief Mayawati, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury and TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu, who kept asking the BJP and RSS about the temple, would support his Bill. “They frequently ask the date (of Ram temple construction) from RSS and BJP, now onus is on them to answer,” he tweeted.
Despite repeated attempts, Sinha was not available for comments.
Sinha tweeted that the Ram temple issue is not a priority for the Supreme Court, and questioned how many days the apex court took to give a verdict on Article 377, Jallikattu and Sabarimala. “But Ram temple is a top priority of Hindu society,” he said.
Sinha said that he “Will write Preface (introduction) of my private member Bill on Ram temple in Ayodhya”, and asked those who were asking him the date of moving the Bill to send him feedback. He said that if the Opposition leaders wanted, he would visit their residences for their “valuable opinion”.
Asked about Sinha’s move, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said he would not comment on a Bill that would be the property of Parliament. But he added: “As far as the resolve of the BJP to construct Ram temple is concerned, we have pledged since 1989, when the BJP held its Palampur conclave, that we will strive for construction of the temple through constitutional measures. We stand by it.”
Patra argued that the BJP as well as Sangh, VHP and sants have always stood for the temple whereas the Congress, SP and BSP would oppose it.
The Shiv Sena, which had earlier sought an ordinance on the temple, offered Sinha support. “We are ready to support him (Sinha),” Sena parliamentary party leader Sanjay Raut told The Indian Express. “We expect him to mention the date (deadline) for starting construction. Ideally, the Narendra Modi regime should come up with a Bill, considering that it had promised to build a temple.”
As for Rahul, Raut said: “I am prepared to meet him if he is ready to support a Bill. After all, he seems to be quite religious. Look at the way he is visiting temples. I am sure, apart from being a Shivbhakt, he is a Rambhakt too.”
The Sena has been preparing for party president Uddhav Thackeray’s visit to Ayodhya, scheduled for November 24-25. Raut said that Thackeray’s first engagement there would be Saryu “aarti” in the evening. Next morning, he will go for “darshan” of Ramlalla at the makeshift temple, followed by a reception by religious leaders at Hanuman Garhi. There will be a public meeting later.
“The entire programme of Uddhavji is aimed at reminding PM Modi of his Ayodhya temple promise and to appeal to him to honour it,” Raut said.
According to party sources, Sinha’s move indicates the pressure mounting on the BJP and its government from its ideological parent and its affiliates to make a constructive move on the temple issue. Both the RSS and the VHP have scaled up their pressure with public statements for moving a Bill or acquiring land for constructing a temple, since the Supreme Court posted the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case in January next year when an appropriate bench would decide the schedule of hearing. Sinha is known for his proximity with RSS leaders.
BJP sources have said that the party and the government would have to contemplate “a step forward” for the construction of the temple ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
On Wednesday, speaking to The Indian Express, Union minister Uma Bharti also asked Opposition parties to take initiative and talk to both sides to resolve the dispute.