SABROOM (TRIPURA): Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday announced the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya will be ready by January 1, 2024, the year the Lok Sabha elections will be held.
This is being seen by BJP’s political opponents as an indication that Ram Mandir, a plank raked up by the saffron camp since 1990 when BJP leader L K Advani started out on a Rath Yatra to focus on the issue, may again be one of the cornerstones of the saffron party’s campaign in the next general election.
“Rahul baba, listen from Sabroom that a mammoth Ram Mandir will be ready on January 1, 2024,” he said attacking Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who is in the midst of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, a 3500 kilometres long march from Kanyakumari to Kashmir.
Secretary of Ram Mandir Trust Champat Rai and chief priest of Ram Janmabhoomi temple Acharya Satyendra Das had come out with separate statements appreciating Gandhi for the Bharat Jodo Yatra earlier this week.
Advani’s Rath Yatra was believed a major factor in the rise of the BJP in the 1990s which had been politically hit by both the advent of Rajiv Gandhi in 1984 and the Mandal Commission award in the late 1980s which saw regional parties espousing the cause of OBCs gaining strength.
The Rath Yatra also saw the spawning of a movement calling for the destruction of the 16th-century Mosque in Ayodhya, which some believed was the site of a palace where Lord Ram was born. It culminated in the public destruction of the mosque by saffron brigade volunteers in December 1992.
Addressing a public rally at Sabroom in Tripura, where assembly polls are due early this year, Shah said that the Congress and Communists had put the Ram Mandir issue in the jurisdiction of the court for long, whereas Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for it after the Supreme Court’s order permitting construction.
The Congress and the CPI(M) are the main opposition parties in the BJP-ruled northeastern state and there are indications that the two will fight the assembly election together. The Trinamool Congress along with Tripura Motha party led by the scion of the Tripura royal family are the other important political forces in the state.
After decades-long legal battle, the Supreme Court on November 9, 2019, paved the way for the construction of the Ram temple in the disputed site at Ayodhya, where Babri Masjid was demolished on December 6, 1992.
The prime minister performed the “Bhoomi puja” for the construction of the temple on August 5, 2020.
Reacting to Shah’s announcement, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury termed it as the roll-out of the “election slogan for 2024.”
“Instead of bothering about the problems besetting our country, he is announcing a slogan for the next election,” the prominent Congress leader and MP from Berhampore told PTI.
Trinamool Congress which too is trying to get a foothold in Tripura as well as other North Eastern states, said BJP should not try to claim political mileage out of the temple’s construction.
“It is good that Ram Mandir will be ready by January 1 next year. But BJP or any other political party should not try to claim credit for it.
“Lord Ram belongs to everyone and is not a property of the BJP. It is the court’s verdict that paved the way for Ram Mandir, so BJP should not try to claim political mileage out of it,” senior TMC leader Sougata Roy said.
CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP Bikash Bhattacharya reacted stating that it is apparent that the BJP is trying to create a division among the people of the country “in the name of religion and Ram.”
Pointing out that the India is known as a country of diverse cultures, he told PTI that unity in diversity is the basic motto of the Indian Constitution.
“BJP does not believe in that, they are after Hindu rashtra which is against the basic concept of the Indian Constitution,” Bhattacharya, a senior advocate and a former Advocate General of Tripura, said.
At Sabroom in South Tripura district, Shah flagged off a BJP rath yatra, the second one during the day after Dharmanagar in North Tripura district, aimed at highlighting the state government’s achievements.
The country is safe in the hands of Modi, the union minister said.
“Ten days after the Pulwama incident in Kashmir, Indian soldiers went inside Pakistan and carried out a successful operation under Modi’s leadership,” he pointed out.
A CRPF convoy was attacked by a suicide bomber in Pulwama district killing 40 personnel on February 14, 2019. The Indian Air Force raided a terrorist camp at Balakot in Pakistan on February 26. (PTI)