Amit Shah says, would have built Ram temple long back but Congress is “repeatedly delaying” it

“Had it been our way, the case would have been settled and the Ram temple been constructed in Ayodhya,” Shah said in an interview on Sunday.

He claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party has always been in favour of courts hearing the Ayodhya case on a priority basis but the Congress has been delaying the case.

“Recently, Congress leader Kapil Sibal argued in the Supreme Court that the Ayodhya land dispute case should be heard after 2019 (the Lok Sabha election),” he said. “Is it possible that Kapil Sibal could have taken a politically sensitive case without (Congress president) Rahul Gandhi’s nod?”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also accused the main opposition party on Sunday of delaying the Supreme Court hearings in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute.

Modi said at a poll rally in Rajasthan’s Alwar that Congress leaders attempted to defer hearings in the decades-old dispute because of the elections before and in 2019, accusing it of dragging the judiciary into politics and undermining judicial independence.

Hindu groups, including the BJP’s ideological mentor RSS, have called for a law or an ordinance to facilitate the building of a temple at the disputed site. The RSS has also threatened a 1992-like campaign for its construction.

A section of Hindus believes the 16th-century mosque, Babri Masjid, was built over a temple dedicated to Hindu god Ram, whose birthplace is also considered to be at the site. The mosque was demolished by a mob of thousands in 1992, triggering a cycle of violence and riots across India.

Talk of the government considering an ordinance or a bill to construct a temple in Ayodhya in the remainder of Parliament’s term has gained momentum after the RSS’ demand.

The dispute – among India’s most sensitive and divisive political issue – has slowly returned to the political centre stage over the past few months. The Supreme Court has turned down the Uttar Pradesh government’s request to expedite hearing the land title dispute case and pushed the hearing to January next year.

Shah, however, said the BJP will wait for the next hearing of the Ayodhya case on January 22.
“We will see. The case will come up for hearing in January. Let the case be heard (in the Supreme Court). It is not in our hand. We can’t fix the date. It is for the court to decide,” he said.

His comments came even as thousands of supporters of the Ram temple gathered in Ayodhya for the event by the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Shiv Sena’s programme in the Uttar Pradesh town to mount pressure on the government on the contentious issue, which featured in the 2014 election manifesto of the ruling party at the Centre.

The right-wing group also raised the pitch for a firm commitment from the Centre on when the temple construction would begin, either through a legislation or an ordinance and for the Supreme Court to ‘understand’ Hindu sentiments on the issue.

The BJP president said that the ongoing agitations over the Ram Temple, ahead of the key assembly elections in the country, were not strategic in nature when asked about their timing.

The saffron party has been in power for the last 15 years in two of the five states going to polls, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, and for ten in Rajasthan.