The demand for the construction of a Ram Temple in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, resonated in the national capital on Sunday, as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) organised a rally at the historic Ramlila Maidan to mount pressure on the Centre.
Large crowds of supporters, some wearing saffron caps and waving saffron flags, gathered at the venue. Members of the RSS — the BJP's ideological fountainhead — also attended the rally. Several Hindu priests and senior RSS and VHP functionaries addressed the massive gathering, all asserting that the judiciary should be mindful of people's sentiments and prioritise the Ram Temple case.
This is the second major event held in recent weeks over the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid dispute to press for the construction of a temple in Ayodhya. In the past few months, right-wing groups have been becoming increasingly vocal about their impatience with the Centre's inaction over the Ram Temple dispute. They have called for an early resolution of the dispute in favour of their demand.
On 24 November, Ayodhya had turned into a fortress as lakhs of people had descended on the temple town amid chants of "mandir wahin banaenge, mandir jaldi bananenge". The Shiv Sena, the BJP's ally in Maharashtra, had also joined the protests.
RSS makes veiled attacks on Centre, Supreme Court
At the VHP rally on Sunday, senior RSS leader Suresh 'Bhaiyyaji' Joshi made a veiled attack on the BJP for not fulfilling its promise of constructing a Ram Temple in Ayodhya. He demanded the Union government enact a legislation, if need be, for it.
The RSS executive head said: "Those in power today had promised to construct Ram Temple. They should listen to people and fulfil the demand of temple in Ayodhya. They are aware of the sentiments."
Without naming the BJP, he said, "We are not begging for it. We are expressing our emotions. The country wants 'Ram rajya'."
Joshi also said, "A country that develops distrust for the judicial system cannot walk on the path of development. The Supreme Court should also delve into this factor and take public sentiments into account."
The VHP has demanded that a bill for the construction of a Ram Temple in Ayodhya be tabled in the Winter Session of Parliament, which commences Tuesday.
VHP international working president Alok Kumar said, "We want a law, but the central government has to decide whether it should be done through an ordinance or a bill. Since the Winter Session of Parliament is about to start, I would prefer a bill to the ordinance, where all parties have a chance to share their views. I believe that through today's gathering, a loud and clear message has been conveyed that the people of India want a Ram Temple."
During the rally, preacher Sadhvi Rithambhara called upon her supporters to "awake and attack like lions and not just sit with patience".
Later, while speaking to ANI, she clarified, "I want everyone to come together so that our problems are resolved. I want the Centre to bring an ordinance for early construction of Ram Temple."
No more delay, assures BJP
BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain said: "There is a feeling among the people that a Ram Temple should be constructed at Ayodhya. So they came in large numbers to Delhi. In a democracy, we have to respect people's feelings. I believe there will be no more delay for which they have come to Delhi."
Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya spoke of the possibility of a legislation being passed on the issue and was quoted as saying: "The BJP has always openly supported the construction of a Ram Temple at Ayodhya. We hope that the case comes up for hearing early and is decided, and this is also the wish of saints and devotees of Lord Ram. If this does not yield results, then there is the path of mediation, and if that doesn't work, a law can be passed. All options are open."
'BJP wakes up to Lord Ram only during elections'
However, Opposition parties castigated the BJP as well as Hindu right-wing groups for their stand on the issue, with the RJD's Manoj Jha accusing organisations like the BJP, RSS and VHP of doing "dog-whistle politics" in the name of Lord Ram.
"They are calling the gathering a 'Dharma Sabha', or a religious gathering, but there is nothing 'Dharmik' about the gathering at all. It is an 'Adharmik Sabha'," Jha said. "They wake up to the reality of Lord Ram only in the election years. We should not allow these people to go berserk and destroy everything."
Elaborate security arrangements were in place at the Ramlila Maidan. Snipers were also deployed at high rises to deal with any situation. As large crowds tried to enter the ground, police officials were seen trying to close the gates and restore order.
About 4,500 Delhi Police personnel and 2,000 traffic policemen were deployed for the rally.
The construction of a Ram Temple at Ayodhya was one of the larger promises the BJP had made before the 2014 general elections. However, the Ayodhya case is sub judice in the Supreme Court, which is expected to decide the date to begin hearing the case in January 2019.
The Babri Masjid, built by Mughal emperor Babur in Ayodhya in 1578, was demolished on 6 December, 1992, by Hindu activists claiming that the mosque was constructed after a Ram Temple was pulled down at the site.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Dec 10, 2018 08:10:02 IST