BJP temple style cramped by ally hurdle
The BJP has pinned its hopes on the Supreme Court for the Ram temple in Ayodhya, realising that dependence on allies for the 2019 general election will make it difficult for the Narendra Modi government now to bring a law or an ordinance to build one.
“The matter is right now in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has fixed January 4 to decide about the next bench (that will hear the case). We are hoping the Supreme Court will take fast-track the case and conclude at the earliest. If that’s not going to happen, we’ll explore other options,” BJP general secretary Ram Madhav told journalists on Wednesday.
The Supreme Court will on January 4 set up a bench to hear the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit, which will then decide when to hear the case.
Madhav said the option of bringing an ordinance existed but right now they were hoping the top court would resolve the issue.
The BJP’s Bihar allies, the JDU and the Lok Janshakti Party, have made it clear that the Ram temple was not on the agenda of the NDA and so they cannot be expected to support a law or ordinance.
BJP president Amit Shah recently buckled to clinch a seat-sharing deal with the two Bihar partners, parting with seats the party holds in the state and promising to send Lok Janshakti chief Ram Vilas Paswan to the Rajya Sabha on a BJP seat.
“If we push for a law or ordinance on the Ram temple, these two parties will not back us and may also snap ties,” one BJP leader said.
Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had on Tuesday urged the Supreme Court to expedite the case.
“I appeal to the Supreme Court in my personal capacity to hear the Ram Janmabhoomi issue like fast-track court for a prompt disposal of the case,” Prasad said in Lucknow, addressing a lawyers’ conference.
BJP leaders believe the party is in a spot on the Ram temple issue. The RSS and the Shiv Sena are going all out to put pressure on the Modi government to bring a law or ordinance to start construction, without waiting for the court verdict. “While we can’t afford to lose allies like the JDU and the LJP, the anger of the RSS and the Sena too will cost us dearly,” a BJP leader said.
The RSS, party leaders said, has told the BJP it cannot hope to win the 2019 Lok Sabha polls without a decisive push for the Ram temple. It has argued that a law or ordinance for the temple will consolidate Hindu votes and help the BJP tide over the discontent caused by farm distress and joblessness, the leaders said.
Like the BJP needs allies in Bihar, it also needs the support of the Shiv Sena to take on the combined strength of the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party in Maharashtra. The BJP and Sena had contested separately in 2014.
The Sena has taken an aggressive stand on the temple and has been baiting the Modi government in the run-up to the elections. Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray recently used Rahul Gandhi’s “chowkidar chor hai” slogan to rile the BJP. No BJP leader hit back.
“The Sena has realised that we need them and so are using the opportunity to armtwist,” one BJP leader said. After Uddhav’s recent visit to Ayodhya, the Sena now plans to hold a mega rally in Maharashtra to press for the construction of a Ram temple.