New Delhi: A day after a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Lucknow framed criminal conspiracy charges against senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders over the 1992 demolition of Babri Masjid, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath said the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site should be done through consensus.
During his day-long visit to the holy city, Adityanath offered prayers at the makeshift Ram temple and said the BJP government in the state is making plans for the development of Ayodhya. Without naming any political party or leader, the chief minister also criticized opposition parties and previous chief ministers for ignoring the development of Ayodhya.
“I understand the sentiments of the people. Construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya should be by consensus and the Uttar Pradesh government is ready to be part of any effort which helps build consensus for the construction of the temple. I am happy that many Muslim organizations have come forward and there should be a renewed effort to hold talks and build consensus for the construction of Ram temple," Adityanath said at a public meeting in Ayodhya.
The move is significant because the Ram temple is a politically sensitive issue and Adityanath’s visit to the temple a day after the court order could be seen as BJP’s attempt to signal its commitment to it. The suggestion from Adityanath has come at a time when the government has not even completed 100 days in office. The BJP has managed to return to power in Uttar Pradesh after a gap of 15 years.
“Ayodhya was neglected by former chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh; even ‘Ram Leela’ was stopped by the previous government. But the Uttar Pradesh government is working on a plan for the development of Ayodhya," Adityanath said.
Reiterating the stand of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Adityanath said the state government would not differentiate on the basis of religion or caste. “The message of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas of Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) does not differentiate on the basis of caste or religion. The government is committed to working for the development of anyone who is an Indian and follows Indian Constitution," the chief minister added.
Both the national as well as state election manifesto of the BJP had promised building consensus over Ram temple. Senior party leaders are of the opinion that it should be built through consensus.
This is Adityanath’s first visit to Ayodhya after taking over as chief minister in March. He reached Faizabad, the twin city of Ayodhya, on Wednesday morning. He began his day by offering prayers at the Hanumangarhi temple in Ayodhya following which he spent time in the makeshift temple at the disputed site. He also offered prayers at the banks of Saryu river.
On Tuesday, a special court framed charges against former deputy prime minister L.K. Advani, Union minister Uma Bharti, and former Union minister Murli Manohar Joshi. While rejecting the discharge petition brought by the accused, it directed that the trial be conducted on a day-to-day basis and wrapped up within two years.
The developments gain significance in light of the Supreme Court observation in March that the Ayodhya dispute must be settled amicably through “a cordial meeting" of all concerned parties even as chief justice J.S. Khehar offered his personal mediation to help resolve the matter.
The ruling BJP has defended the chief minister’s visit to Ayodhya and the makeshift temple.
“If Yogi Adityanath is going to the Ayodhya-Faizabad mandal (zone) and visits the Ram Lalla temple in Ayodhya, then why does anybody have an objection to it is beyond my understanding... the opposition wants to make an issue out of it because their minds are corrupted," Siddharth Nath Singh, state’s health minister told reporters.