NEW DELHI: A political war of words has broken out over the statements that Congress leader Kapil Sibal made in the Supreme Court as part of the hearing on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case. The BJP has demanded that the Congress clarify what Sibal meant when he asked the court to conduct its hearing after the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
Sibal was in the apex court as the lawyer for the Sunni Waqf Board. He urged to court to take up the 25-year-old matter up only after July 2019. The rationale, he said on behalf of his clients, was that the case was being used to polarise the electorate with an eye on the polls.
The Supreme Court had declined this plea and set the final hearing for February 8, 2018.
However, this plea blew up in partisan politicking.
"Today, a surprising stand was taken in the Supreme Court by Congress leader and Sunni Waqf Board lawyer Kapil Sibal ji. He said the hearing should be deferred till after 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Congress should clear its stand on this," said BJP president Amit Shah, at a press conference in poll-bound Gujarat.
He also took a shot at Congress chief-in-waiting Rahul Gandhi, who has been facing allegations of 'soft Hindutva' to appeal to voters in the coming Gujarat Assembly elections. "Rahul ji is visiting temples in Gujarat but on the other hand Kapil Sibal is being used to delay Ram janmbhoomi case. Rahul ji should tell us what his view on this is," Shah said.
The Congress responded by washing its hands of what Sibal said in court. "Who he represents in court is Kapil Sibal's personal matter. Congress has nothing to do with it," said party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.
"Arun Jaitley ji was lawyer in Bhopal gas tragedy. Does that mean the whole of BJP is to be blamed?" he counterattacked.
"Congress's stand has always been clear, that Ayodhya case will be decided by the Supreme Court," he added.