The Shiv Sena on Thursday took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the announcement of a trust to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya was aimed at laying the “foundation” for the upcoming Delhi Assembly polls and it will be completed during the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
It was expected that the Ram temple issue will not be politicised, an editorial in Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ said. Elections to the 70-member Delhi Assembly will be held on Saturday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday announced in the Lok Sabha formation of a 15-member autonomous trust to construct the temple at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.
“Modi gave the slogan of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ just four days ahead of polling for the Delhi Assembly. Will be happy if (the number) goes up by two-four seats with the help of Shri Ram,” the Shiv Sena said. “It was expected that the issue of Ram temple will not be politicised, but its ‘foundation’ was laid for the Delhi Assembly (election) and will be completed on the occasion of 2024 Lok Sabha (polls),” it said in cryptic remarks.
It is expected that a “Ram Rajya” (welfare state) will be realised in a true sense in the country by then, it added. There is criticism that the BJP “brought in” Lord Ram as Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal has caused restlessness in the saffron party ahead of the Delhi Assembly polls, the Marathi daily said.
“This (criticism) is because the prime minister announced formation of the temple trust four days ahead of polling. It is important that the prime minister made the announcement in the Lok Sabha,” it said. The Shiv Sena said the Supreme Court will have to be thanked first for the prime minister’s announcement about the trust, as the apex court had ordered construction of the temple in November last year.
It also thanked Modi for discharging his duty as the prime minister in the light of the Supreme Court order.
The Shiv Sena, which had long campaigned for the temple construction, said how autonomous the trust is going to be will be known only after the appointment of its members.
It said the trust should have representation of all the organisations which campaigned for the temple construction, if it is an “autonomous body”.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led party said it was active in the campaign for temple construction from day one. “The BJP itself had then admitted that the Shiv Sainiks landed hammers on the Babri (mosque) and the (then) Shiv Sena chief (late Bal Thackeray) said he was proud of the Shiv Sainiks who brought down the Babri,” it pointed out.
Hundreds of Shiv Sainiks “laid their lives” in the violence after the Babri mosque demolition, it claimed.
“Those who gave the slogan of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ should keep this in mind,” it said. Recalling L K Advani’s role in the campaign, the Shiv Sena said the BJP would not have attained the current position in country’s politics had the veteran leader not taken out a ‘rath yatra’ in the name of Shri Ram (in 1990).
The construction of Ram temple had been part of the BJP’s poll manifesto for years, and it was expected that the promise would be fulfilled when the Narendra Modi government was formed at the Centre in 2014 will full majority, it said.
During the previous term of Modi government, the Shiv Sena – a partner of the BJP till last year – called for bringing an ordinance for temple construction, but the government did not do so, the editorial recalled. “Eventually, hearing took place in the Supreme Court on the Ram temple issue for 40 days in a row and the it gave verdict in favour of the Ram temple (construction)…the trust is being formed due to that court order,” it said.
“It is binding on any government to implement the courts order. Prime Minister Modi followed that order,” the Marathi publication added.
While making announcement about the trust on Wednesday, the prime minister also said the government has decided to transfer 67.70 acres of land acquired under the Ayodhya Act to the trust.