THE CRUDE OIL BALM
Thackeray visited Ayodhya on November 24 and used the occasion to goad the BJP, asking the NDA government to spell out a date when the Ram temple will be constructed. The build-up had started earlier, with Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath changing the name of the district from Faizabad to Ayodhya and promising to build a 201-metre-tall statue of Ram a few miles away to tower over the disputed site.
On the other side, in the opposition, BSP chief Mayawati alleged the BJP leaders were orchestrating the Ram temple drama to divert attention from its governance failures. Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav said, “The Supreme Court should take note of the situation in UP. It should seriously consider the matter and bring in the army, if required. The BJP and its allies can go to any extent.” The CPI(M) has urged citizens to commemorate December 6, the day the Babri Masjid was demolished, as ‘Defend the Constitution and Secularism Day’.
The Sangh parivar organisations and their allies are likely to raise the pitch after December 11, once Parliament session begins and the assembly poll results are declared. A private members’ bill on the issue by RSS ideologue and Rajya Sabha member Rakesh Sinha is also likely to be introduced.
Considering the legal complications, a decision on the Ayodhya issue is unlikely from the Supreme Court before the Lok Sabha poll in May 2019. The only route is a consensus on the Ram mandir issue among all political parties and stakeholders or bringing a law for its construction via the ordinance route. RSS leader Indresh Kumar says the NDA government is ready to bring a law on this by initiating a legislation in Parliament. Such a law, though, will only be spelt out after December 11. Ravindra Kushwaha, BJP MP from Salempur in UP, agrees. Kushwaha says the Centre will bring a bill on the Ram temple in the coming winter session and go for an ordinance if it is blocked in the Rajya Sabha. Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, though, is more circumspect. “Efforts are on to build a consensus on the issue. There is no scope for an ordinance,” he says. The ordinance route, other BJP leaders too feel, is doomed since it can be challenged in the courts given that the matter is sub judice.
With the parivar raising the pitch on the ground and the discussions in Parliament, the attempt obviously is to make the mandir issue a prime agenda for the 2019 general election. Whether it will help them or hurt them, only time will tell.
Sangh outfits will likely raise the pitch after Dec. 11, once Parliament session begins and state poll results are in