ALLAHABAD: Another BJP leader has said that the construction of the Ram Janmabhoomi Temple in Ayodhya would begin before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. This time, it was a usual suspect, former BJP MP and the chief of the Ram Janambhoomi Nyas president Ram Vilas Vedanti.
Vedanti's remarks came in Allahabad on Sunday, reported news agency ANI. "The BJP has resolved to build the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. The construction of Ram Mandir will begin before the election of 2019 takes place," Vedanti declared.
He joins a list of BJP leaders which includes party chief Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath who have reportedly promised a similar thing. While Adityanath's remarks had come at a public forum, Shah had reportedly told a meeting of party leaders in Telangana in July that the construction would begin before the 2019 polls. However, the BJP scrambled to deny he had made such a statement, and claimed he had been misquoted.
The construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya at the site of the now-demolished Babri Masjid is seen as a key election plank of the BJP. While some within the ruling party may see it as a lightning rod that has the potential to galvanise the BJP's support base in the Hindi belt, opposition leaders have decried such statements as a bid to polarise voters before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's re-election bid.
However, the matter is presently pending in the Supreme Court. The assertions from the BJP camp also stand in stark contrast to the stand of some opposition voices that would like to see the matter put on ice till the 2019 elections are over.
Congress leader Kapil Sibal, representing the Sunni Waqf Board in the title suit, had appealed to the Supreme Court to reserve judgement on the case till after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, on the grounds that it would lead to polarisation and politicisation of the issue.
The argument that the verdict would affect the Lok Sabha elections was brushed aside by the Supreme Court. Sibal also found himself without support from his party, which quickly distanced itself from his remark saying he was speaking as a lawyer and not as a Congress leader. Sibal also found his client in complete disagreement with what he had asked the court.