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Will BJP Act on Its Ram Mandir Promise Even After UP Win?

In this file photo, pilgrims view a model of the temple dedicated to Lord Ram in the holy city of Allahabad. (Photo: Reuters)

In this file photo, pilgrims view a model of the temple dedicated to Lord Ram in the holy city of Allahabad. (Photo: Reuters)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call of 'Jai Shri Ram' in a Dusshera platform in Lucknow was followed by the promise of building a Ram museum.

New Delhi: In October last year, Narendra Modi first invoked Ram Mandir without naming it. Modi's call of 'Jai Shri Ram' in a Dusshera platform in Lucknow was followed by the promise of building a Ram museum.

Suddenly a number of people, both from within and outside the party, seemed to have remembered the temple issue and the delay caused in building it. BJP's own MP from UP Vinay Katiyar called Ram museum a mere 'lollipop' and demanded that the party instead actually construct the Ram temple on the disputed site.

A few days later, in January this year, the chief priest of the makeshift Ram Janmabhoomi temple claimed that the seers of Ayodhya would support BJP only if it promised Ram Temple. And finally, just a few days later, BJP did mention Ram Temple in their manifesto for UP, but could only promise that 'the law will be followed to get the temple built as soon as possible.'

But as the dispute is pending in Supreme Court, BJP MPs have often claimed that they could find an alternate route to build the temple when they get enough numbers in Rajya Sabha.

But by winning UP by a landslide and Uttarakhand by a comfortable margin and given that the two states together can nominate 33 Rajya Sabha members, BJP is bound to be asked this question by its voters again.

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Responding to the question on Ram Temple during a press-interaction session, right after the poll results were announced on Saturday, Shah almost sidestepped the question, "Our idea on Ram temple is written in our manifesto. You can read it there."

But that's not the last time BJP would've to answer this question. It's leaders on ground will be asked again and again, 'now that you've got seats in Rajya Sabha, what about the Ram Temple?'

So, can the BJP build the Ram Temple now?

Going by what the courts recently indicated and the latest status of the case in the Supreme Court, it is very unlikely that BJP would be able to do anything about the promise made as not only the case is sub-judice but also the fact that the apex court has recently decided that it would want CBI to restore conspiracy charges against BJP and RSS members.

In December 1992, when the ancient mosque was razed down by the Kar Sevaks, it was BJP and RSS who had supported this idea of existence of Lord Rama's birth place in the site and eventually the matter reached the courts.

Though it has made its way through the lower courts, the High court's and now the SC, the dispute is far from being settled.

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In the first week of March, 2017, the apex court said that senior BJP leaders like LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti should be investigated for conspiracy charges, a charge which a lower court had exonerated them of around seven years ago. The bench also expressed its desire to conduct the trial in a speedy manner and asked the two pending cases in Lucknow and Rae Bareli to be heard together.

The apex court here was hearing an appeal by CBI against the Allahabad High Court verdict of 2010 in which the court's Lucknow bench ordered that the conspiracy charges against Advani and others should be dropped.

This might suggest that the litigation is soon nearing an end but this case is primarily divided into a civil case and a criminal one. Though the criminal part of the case got an observation from the court, but the civil case which is an appeal against the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict directing the three-way division of 2.77 acres is still pending with the SC.

In the 2010, the Allahabad High Court had ruled that the disputed land be divided between the Hindus, the Muslims, and the Nirmohi Akhara. Hindu and Muslim organisations, including the Sunni Central Wakf Board, Nirmohi Akhara, All-India Hindu Mahasabha and Bhagwan Shri Ram Virajman had appealed against the order.

However in May 2011, it was again felt that the case is gaining momentum. But Justice Aftab Alam in 2013 while hearing the case ordered status quo at the site and since Justice Alam has retired, the case has not been hear d effectively yet, although during an interview with News18, Ranjana Agnihotri, counsel for Ram Lalla Virajman, said that there were notices from SC registrar in November, 2016, stating that the “case might come up for hearing", but the case has not been listed as yet.

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Now March 22 is set as the next date for hearing the SC, where the court may revive the conspiracy charges against the senior BJP leaders and ask CBI to investigate the same, which may prove to be a jolt to the winning party. But unless the primary question of land dispute is solved where none of the parties are willing to hold onto only ‘a share’ of the land, this issue is far from over and continues to remain sub-judice.

Now with BJP coming into power in the state, it would not risk to violate the orders of the apex court and rush into building a temple because not only is Ayodhya trying to gather itself to rise above communal issues but also await urgent development. The judiciary and the NDA government has long been in a hurdle over the appointment of the judges to the higher judiciary and with the formation of the Memorandum of Procedure, but now with the CJI indicating that MoP would be finalized in a few weeks, BJP will ensure not to be at loggerhead with the judiciary and allow the courts to take its time.

Thus, even though BJP has won the UP elections, it would not only be difficult but also a well thought decision to avoid acting on its "Mandir Wahin Banaenge" promise.

ALSO READ: 'Issue is Not Babri Masjid Demolition; But Ram Temple Demolition'