By Elton Gomes
Ravindra Kushwaha, a lawmaker from the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), today claimed that a bill allowing the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya will be introduced in the coming session of parliament. Kushwaha also said that the Centre will bring an ordinance in case the bill falls in the Rajya Sabha.
The lawmaker’s claim comes amid calls by Hindutva organisations for legislation to enable the construction of the temple at the disputed site, while the Supreme Court pushed its verdict to January 2019.
“The bill for Ram temple construction will definitely be tabled in the coming winter session of parliament, beginning December 11,” Kushwaha told the press. “But if it fails to get passed by the Rajya Sabha, an ordinance will be brought for the purpose,” he said further.
Kushwaha said that since the BJP does not have the majority in the upper house (Rajya Sabha), he was not sure whether the bill can be passed there. However, he was certain that the bill would be passed in Lok Sabha, since the BJP has the required strength.
Kushwaha’s comments come at a time when organisations, like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, are planning a ‘Dharm Sabha’ in Ayodhya on November 25. The rally will be held in order to gather support for the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya.
The Ram Mandir has been a noted electoral subject for the BJP. To appease its Hindu vote bank, the saffron party has maintained its stance of building a temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya. Moreover, the Supreme Court pushing the Ayodhya case hearing to January 2019 may leave the BJP with very little time to realise its intentions ahead of the general elections.
Ram Mandir bill gathers support
On November 1, BJP MP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue Rakesh Sinha proposed that he would soon introduce a private member’s bill in parliament seeking the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Sinha said in a tweet, “To those who keep asking the BJP and the RSS about when Ram temple will be constructed, I have a straight question: Will you support my private member bill [on Ram temple]?” He also posed the question to the opposition, asking whether Rahul Gandhi, Sitaram Yechury, Lalu Prasad Yadav, and Mayawati would support his bill on Ayodhya.
Sinha further questioned why the Supreme Court was delaying the hearing and said that the issue of a Ram temple in Ayodhya is a “top priority of Hindu society”.
Sinha added that he “Will write Preface (introduction) of my private member Bill on Ram temple in Ayodhya”, and asked those who were asking him the date of moving the bill to send him feedback. He said that if the opposition leaders wanted, he would even visit their residences for their “valuable opinion”.
Although the entire matter is not likely to lead to formation of any law, it would help the BJP in gaining solid political mileage. Amit Shah’s party will surely want to keep the issue alive till the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as it has resonance in Uttar Pradesh – a place where the BJP seems to be losing its grip.
The bypoll losses in Gorakhpur and Phulpur came as a wake-up call to the Yogi Adityanath government. In addition, the proposed alliance between the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party has the potential to wreck the BJP’s prospects in UP.
Ayodhya on edge as Shiv Sena, VHP begin rallies
Further leveraging the Ram mandir issue, the Shiv Sena and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) will be holding rallies in Ayodhya.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and his family landed at Faizabad airport on Saturday. Thackeray and his family will then be driven to Ayodhya on a two-day visit where big religious events have been planned, including one organised by the VHP.
Sources have claimed that almost 3,000 Shiv Sena supporters could be on their way to the events in trains coming to Ayodhya from Mumbai.
Thackeray will visit Lakshman Kila today, where he will speak with priests before offering prayers on the banks of the Sarayu river. He will offer prayers to Ram Lalla tomorrow. It is important to note that no permission was granted to the Shiv Sena to hold any type of rally.
“As many as 13 parking slots have been provided for the event. No permission was given to the Shiv Sena by the government to hold a rally,” Ayodhya mayor Rishikesh Upadhyay told PTI.
The Faizabad district administration has imposed prohibitory orders (Section 144) at the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Majid disputed site amidst reports that the minority community was feeling unsafe, with some even leaving the city fearing violence.
Uttar Pradesh police has sounded a state-wide alert to avoid any untoward incident during the Dharma Sabha on Sunday.
“Extra force comprising 10 companies of Central Paramilitary Force and 68 companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary has been deployed to keep a check on the law and order situation. Along with this, the local police force from adjoining districts has been called in,” ASP Ayodhya, Sanjay Kumar said, as per a News18 report.
Sources said that a flood unit of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) will also patrol the Sarayu River, while ATS commandos and a bomb-disposal squad will be deployed to avoid any unwanted situation.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius