After the Supreme Court judgment on 9 November, construction for a Ram Temple in Ayodhya is expected to begin on Ram Navami next year. While the authorities seem to have zeroed in on an auspicious day to start work on the temple, the BJP will also hope that the task is finished before another "auspicious" occasion: the next Uttar Pradesh Assembly election in 2022.
Indeed, Hindu organisations have already begun stepping up pressure on the Centre to build the temple at the earliest. The VHP on Sunday said the Centre should take swift action on the Supreme Court judgment, and demanded the structure be built as per the design prepared by architect Chandrakant Sompura on its request.
Renowned temple architect Sompura was asked to prepare the design in 1989 by then VHP chief Ashok Singhal and it was circulated among devotees across the country, the organisation's working president Alok Kumar told PTI.
"In the implementation of this verdict, the roles of the Central government and the state government of Uttar Pradesh have also been determined. While expressing confidence that these governments are alert and active towards their responsibilities, they were also requested to take prompt action," VHP spokesperson Vinod Bansal said in a statement.
While the VHP has expressed "confidence" in the Central and state government for now, it may not remain as patient for long. In January, the VHP had held several programmes across the country, turning up the heat on the BJP government to pass a legislation to construct the temple. However, in February, the organisation said that it would put its agitation on hold until the Lok Sabha election.
"The VHP has decided to suspend its campaign for constructing the Ram Temple at Lord Ram's birthplace in Ayodhya till the general election process gets over, as the organisation does not want it to become an election issue," VHP's international joint general secretary Surendra Jain had said at the time.
The VHP was not the only voice that had expressed impatience with the BJP's stand on the Ram Temple issue. Before the Lok Sabha election, sounds of discord also emerged from within the BJP as Union minister Uma Bharti said people would be "surprised" and "shocked" if no solution was found to the Ram temple issue, despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath being at the helm at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh respectively.
Similarly, the BJP's (now estranged) ally Shiv Sena had organised rallies in parts of Maharashtra and Ayodhya, raising the slogan of "pehle mandir, phir sarkar."
The results of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election of 2017 suggest that religious polarisation was among the factors that helped the BJP. Indeed, it was among the key strategies used by leaders of the saffron party. For instance, Yogi Adityanath had reportedly said during the election campaign that the BJP was not voted to power, people's money would be used for building "karbala aur kabristan" (mosques and burial grounds).
However, it must be noted that emotive issues have not worked as well for the BJP in recent Assembly elections. In the 2017 Uttar Pradesh, the BJP earned rich dividends due to its focus on the surgical strikes conducted in 2016. However, more recently, the BJP performed below expectations in Maharashtra and Haryana, although the elections took place close on the heels of the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.
Given this background, it remains to be seen if the Ram Temple pitch will work for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Nov 11, 2019 23:56:42 IST