Call for Ayodhya law as SC won’t be rushed
The Supreme Court has refused to hear the Ayodhya title suit immediately after Diwali, clouding the calculations of those who were hoping for a polarising pre-poll windfall and igniting a Sangh parivar chorus for a law by the “Ram bhakt” Narendra Modi government to facilitate a temple.
“We have our own priorities. Whether the matter will be heard in January, February or March, the appropriate bench will decide,” a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said on Monday, responding to a plea from the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh to hear the case immediately after Diwali.
The tone of some of the statements that greeted the Supreme Court’s refusal to prioritise the case adds a menacing edge at a time BJP president Amit Shah has openly arrayed his party with those who have defied the Supreme Court on the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.
Now, a fresh and larger flank seeking to pit extremism in the guise of devotion against the rule of law has been opened.
If a Union minister did not think twice about declaring “Hindus are losing patience” and “fearing” dire consequences, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad said the highest court of the land had “failed in its duty” by deferring a decision.
Sources said the Ram temple would top the agenda at the RSS national executive meeting, to be held in Mumbai from October 31, with parivar affiliates such as the VHP in attendance. A meeting of Hindu seers in Delhi, on November 3 and 4, too will discuss the subject.
VHP sources said the BJP had initially thought the court would take a “positive” view on the matter.
VHP chief Kumar demanded that the Opposition parties, particularly the Congress, clarify their stand on the issue. He suggested the Congress would find it difficult to oppose a pro-temple law in Parliament.
Congress veteran P. Chidambaram said: “Our stated position is that the matter is before the Supreme Court and everyone should wait until the Supreme Court decides.… We should not jump the gun.”
“This is a Ram bhakt government and I am hopeful the government will pass a law,” VHP chief Alok Kumar said. “Now they (the BJP) have a majority in Parliament and so they can pass legislation. A joint session of both Houses can be called,” he added.
Neither the government nor the BJP reacted officially. Sources said the leadership was watching “the sentiment” among Hindus and might well bring in a law or ordinance, a course of action already suggested by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.
BJP sources said a massive build-up for a Ram temple, led by various Sangh parivar outfits, was being planned ahead of the polls.
They indicated that the party leadership, which has used the Sabarimala dispute to aggressively question the judiciary’s authority in matters of faith, would adopt a similar line on the Ram temple.
“The government is closely watching the situation and will act at an appropriate time, taking into consideration the sentiments of the people.”
A BJP source added: “Under Shah, the BJP regularly engages professional agencies to gauge the public mood. If surveys show that Hindus are getting agitated over the issue, the party would pitch for a law or an ordinance.”
He added: “How can the BJP run away from the Ram temple issue? Once the VHP and Hindu seers build up a movement, we have to back them.”
RSS national publicity chief Arun Kumar said in Mumbai: “The RSS feels a grand temple should come up at the earliest. We want the Supreme Court to give an early verdict but if that doesn’t happen, the government should enact a law to remove the hurdles.”