Aimed at restive Sangh cadre who have been demanding proactive steps from Centre on Ayodhya
The BJP on Tuesday said the Centre’s plea in the Supreme Court to return excess land around the disputed site in Ayodhya to the original owners (namely the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas), was the “least it could do” looking at the “sentiment attached to Ram Mandir”. The party also maintained that the move “would not affect the main case”.
BJP general secretary Ram Madhav made these remarks in a Facebook post, adding that the move was much awaited and a “welcome one”.
To mollify cadre
The move is also the strongest indication of the government’s intention to construct a Ram temple in Ayodhya and a strong move to mollify upset Sangh Parivar cadre.
From RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat to the VHP’s council of Hindu monks, there had been a demand from the larger Sangh Parivar for a proactive move from the government for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya. Tuesday’s act by the government is likely to give it some political space on the issue.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar also welcomed the government’s move, stating that it was a “legal step” and did not detract from the government’s commitment to a legal solution to the issue.
Assembly poll setbacks
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s negative response to a question on whether the government was contemplating an ordinance to facilitate the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya had dispirited the Sangh Parivar cadre, specifically the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).
With cadre sentiment downcast as witnessed during the BJP’s loss late last year in the three Hindi heartland States of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh and general elections around the corner, the government and the party had been casting about for ways to reassure them.
The move on temple land was welcomed by the VHP’s international working president Alok Kumar, who had been leading the campaign for an ordinance for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya. “The VHP hopes that the Supreme Court shall expeditiously decide on the application filed by the government,” Mr. Kumar said.
Mr. Javadekar was quite explicit, saying the government had taken an important decision to return the undisputed land to its original owners, who, he added, wanted to “build Ram temple” there.
Asked about the Congress questioning the timing of the government decision, just weeks before the Lok Sabha election, Mr. Javadekar alleged that Opposition party “never believed in the existence of Lord Ram”.
Not disputed land
Underlining that the government is not touching the disputed land in Ayodhya, Mr. Javadekar said only 0.313 acres of land was disputed where the title suit was yet to be decided.
“Today the government has taken a very important in-principle decision to return the excess land, which was acquired in 1994, to the original landowners,” Mr Javadekar said.
“Out of 67 acres of undisputed land, the landowner for 42 acres is the Ram Janambhoomi Nyas. The government wants to return the land to its original owners and they want to build the Ram temple there,” he added.