Ahead of Dec 6, Mohan Bhagwat’s comments fuel Opposition tirade on Ram temple

Two days before the Babri Masjid demolition anniversary, the ritualistic annual rhetoric was chanted in Parliament. The comments of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on building Ram Temple at Ayodhya fueled the attempts of the Samajwadi Party and BSP to corner the government.

Opposition parties, with an apparent eye on Uttar Pradesh assembly elections due in 2017, played the minority and dalit cards.

While Samajwadi Party sought a clarification from the government in Rajya Sabha on its stand on constructing the temple, for the BSP, which is trying to consolidate the Muslim and Dalit votes, union minister VK Singh’s comments about dalit children who had died have given ammunition to target the BJP.

The strategy of Mayawati’s BSP on Singh has forced other parties to toe a similar line in the House. Congress is considering boycotting whenever Singh participates in the House till he apologises, according to party sources. The BSP has gone a step further by saying it will not settle for anything less than his resignation.

The House witnessed the competitive politics between the two UP parties– SP and BSP– while the BJP-led government just said it would abide by the court decision on Ram Temple.

“Bhagwat has been saying that Ram Temple will be built. He is appealing people to get ready to sacrifice their lives. The issue is creating communal tension in the country,”SP’s Naresh Agarwal said. He demanded a response from the prime minister on the issue. Members of SP also trooped in the well of the house.

Alleging collusion between government and RSS and seeking action against Bhagwat Ram Gopal Yadav said,”While the matter was for the court to consider, the RSS chief is trying to create communal disharmony which is very dangerous for the country.”

Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi assured the house that the government respected court’s decision on the Ayodhya issue, but people had the fundamental right” to iterate commitment for construction of a temple. However, he said, the construction would be according to the court’s decision.

The government, aware that its options were limited, was awaiting the court verdict, sources said. While BJP leaders openly admit that it was on the agenda, there is acknowledgement that the government cannot go ahead with options like a parliamentary resolution or out of court settlement.

Besides, the issue had the potential to derail the government’s agenda, the sources said.

Bhagwat, while addressing a programme in Kolkata to pay tributes to Ram and Sharad Kothari, who were killed in police firing while performing kar seva at Ayodhya in 1990, had said the temple will be built in his lifetime.

Outside the House, BSP chief Mayawati told reporters that her party was not just reaching out to dalits and Muslims but the “downtrodden” in UP.