Ram Temple issue tops BJP agenda once again

Speaking for the first time on the Ram Mandir issue, the prime minister on Monday trained guns on Congress, saying the matter of dispute over the birthplace of Lord Ram was stalled by the grand old party.

Modi said that had the Congress tried, a solution could have been found much earlier but they cared only about their vote bank. He was speaking at an election rally in Jharkhand, which goes to polls next month.

Speaking at another rally on Sunday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh scaled up the pitch, saying “no power on earth can stop” the construction of a grand temple in Ayodhya, while party chief and Home Minister Amit had on Thursday stressed that BJP was committed to the construction of a temple from the very beginning.

The comments by three top BJP leaders on Ram temple during political rallies within a week, in a poll-bound state, has raised eyebrows. On November 23, the VHP also publicly felicitated around 65 advocates of Ram Lala Virajman, the deity and Ramjanmabhoomi in Karsevakpuram in Ayodhya for their “untiring free contribution in winning the case.”

This is in contrast with the caution the BJP and Sangh parivar had adopted and advocated earlier.

Way back on September 9, addressing an election rally in Nashik, Modi slammed "motormouths" and cautioned them against making comments on Ram Mandir issue. Days before the judgement, RSS asked its pracharaks not to organise celebrations or carry processions if the judgement comes in favour of Ram temple.

On the day of the judgment, VHP issued a press statement after the court judgment saying “neither has anybody won nor has anybody has lost."

Now, the lack of inhibition in raking up the temple issue and claiming credit the Ayodhya verdict is a clear indication that the BJP will no longer will restrain itself from reaping the electoral fruits of fulfilling one of its core agendas.

Political analyst T R Ramachandran, however, thinks that while the BJP might be making a “last-ditch effort to capitalize on Ram temple sentiment”, the issue is now a “done and dusted” and will “not have much resonance electorally.”

The BJP, which installed a non-tribal Raghubar Das as Chief Minster in 2014 in Jharkhand, which has a 26% tribal population, is also facing internal dissension in state unit, which it tried to address by making the ambitious former Chief Minister Arjun Munda a minister in the Centre.

The CM has also antagonized a senior party leader Saryu Rai, who is called the “Chanakya” of Jharkhand politics. Denied an Assembly ticket this time, Rai has announced his candidature as an Independent against the Chief Minister himself.

With the failure of an alliance with its former ally All Jharkhand Students Union, the BJP is nearly a loner against the combined might of the JMM-Congress and RJD alliance, which has only led the party to increase its pitch about its core agenda.

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