'Make law for Ram Mandir': RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat ups the ante on Narendra Modi govt as SC holds firm

With the Supreme Court hardly showing any sense of urgency to resolve the Babri Masjid-Ram Temple issue in Ayodhya, patience among many principal stakeholders is slowly crumbling. On Sunday, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statement seeking the deletion of the old English saying 'Justice delayed is justice denied' from textbooks is a testimony to the growing frustration. As a matter of fact, the case has seen far too many adjournments.

File image of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. PTI

File image of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. PTI

Bhagwat made no attempt to hide his resentment against the Supreme Court's decision to postpone the case till January when a new bench will take over and then decide on a new hearing date. The apex court earlier this month refused to give the matter an urgent hearing as wished by many associated with Hindutva forces. The fountainhead of the Sangh Parivar, through his words and action, has made his action clear that after keeping quiet for last four years of the Narendra Modi regime he is going to aggressively mobilise support for the Ram temple.

Bhagwat also sought the Narendra Modi government's intervention and frame a law for the construction of a Ram temple knowing fully well that the Centre is not quite keen to employ the legislation route although it has just one full working session of Parliament before the country heads for the Lok Sabha elections next year. Even though both the RSS and the Centre are committed to the issue, they are not quite on the same page when it comes to strategy.

On earlier occasions, the RSS chief indicated that he was open to views from various quarters on the issue, more so if it comes from the BJP which now rules the country. In this context, his statement “sometimes such pressures (pressure from people to bring legislation for Ram temple) can lend strength to the government” has loaded connotations.

The pressure he was referring to was seen on Monday's gathering in Ayodhya where thousands of seers followed a call from the RSS and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to decide on a timetable for the construction of a grand Ram temple at the disputed Ramjanabhoomi site. On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi who otherwise has rarely spoken on the Ayodhya issue also spoke at length blasting Congress for engaging in “dangerous game” to somehow delay the hearing in the Supreme Court. It is hard to believe that it's mere coincidence that Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has also officially released details of the 211-meter tall Ram statute that he intends to build on the banks of river Saryu in Ayodhya.

The last time Modi had talked about Ayodhya was about a year ago. On 7 December 2017, while campaigning at Kalol in Gujarat, Modi aggressively picked up the issue. The prime minister, however, had not spoken on the subject since Gujarat election campaign last December. He picked up the issue on Sunday while campaigning in Rajasthan.

Modi blasted Congress leaders for asking about his caste, for dragging his mother into electoral discourse and asking who his father was before he moved onto the Ayodhya issue and sought to point out how the Congress was playing a “dangerous game” of delaying court hearing.

Former Union minister, Congress MP and senior counsel for a Muslim organisation Kapil Sibal had argued in the Supreme Court that hearing on Ram temple be postponed till 15 July 2019. This demand was made to ensure that the hearing comes after the next government takes charge as the issue has political ramifications. Others went to the extent of alleging an agenda behind “hurry” in hearing the case, which was pending there for the last seven years.

The political heat around the issue was so intense that Sibal withdrew himself as counsel from the case. But there was a sustained word-to-mouth campaign against the then chief justice Deepak Misra that he wanted to give a verdict on the Ram temple before he retired and the Opposition drew substance from the fact that the chief justice wanted an early hearing on the case. It’s also a fact that Sibal was the architect of the Congress’ move to try and initiate impeachment motion against Justice Misra.

Senior Congress leader CP Joshi had questioned Modi and Uma Bharti’s caste and said only Brahmins had right to speak about the Hindu religion. The prime minister's counter came on a day when a large number of sadhus had gathered in Ayodhya. It’s a fact that sadhus come from varied castes and Modi’s statement would appeal to them.

Modi’s contention was these leaders were not speaking on their own but they were speaking on the prompting of “namdar” (Congress president Rahul Gandhi).

Officially Ram temple is not on BJP’s agenda in this round of Assembly elections in the five states but emerging narrative around Ayodhya may leave some mark among a section of Hindu voters.

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Updated Date: Nov 26, 2018 16:28:10 IST

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