NEW DELHI :
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday informed Parliament that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had set up a trust, named Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra, for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya. The decision was taken during the meeting of the Union cabinet on Wednesday morning, four days before the expiry of a three-month deadline set by the Supreme Court.
Modi asked all parliamentarians to support the construction of the temple in Ayodhya.
This comes in the wake of the Supreme Court, in its judgement on the dispute, asking the Union government to form a trust that can look at the construction and management of the temple.
“We have readied a scheme for the development of Ram temple in Ayodhya. A trust has been formed, it is called Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra. My government has decided that under the Ayodhya law, we would transfer the authorized land, which is nearly 67.703 acres and of which the inner and outer courtyard is a part, to the newly constituted Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra," Modi said in the Lok Sabha.
The decision of the Union government comes just a day before campaigning for the Delhi assembly elections comes to an end. Delhi goes to polls on 8 February and counting of votes will take place on 11 February. The BJP has tried to make the Delhi elections one that will be contested on issues such as the construction of the Ram temple, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, abrogation of Article 370, and making instant triple talaq illegal.
“There will be 15 trustees in Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, of which 1 will always be from Dalit community. For such an unprecedented decision that strengthens social harmony, I thank PM Narendra Modi," tweeted home minister Amit Shah.
Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party national convener Arvind Kejriwal welcomed the announcement. However, some Opposition parties, including the Congress, said that the issue should not be politicized.
“We welcome this decision. It is a good thing. I congratulate the people of the country. People are talking about timing. There is no timing for good work. I hope that they make announcements today and tomorrow," Kejriwal said.
“Government is going on and constructing and following the Supreme Court instructions, they should do so, that is their duty but I only hope that the politics over Lord Rama should end. Seeking votes in the name of Lord Rama should end," Gaurav Gogoi, senior leader and spokesperson of Congress told reporters on Wednesday.
A senior official of the Election Commission clarified on Thursday that no permission was required from the poll watchdog for the announcement of the trust.
Modi told the members of Parliament that people of all religions live in peace and harmony in the country and the message of the government, Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas and Sabka Vishwas, signifies the essence of this feeling.
“There are people of all communities in India whether they are Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis or Jains. We are all part of a larger family. All members of this family develop, they live in happiness, they are healthy, and the country prospers. With this sentiment my government is going ahead with the mantra of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas," Modi said. He also pointed out that after the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Ayodhya dispute, people had shown maturity and faith. “On 9 November, after the judgement on Ram Janmabhoomi came, all citizens expressed faith in democratic institutions and gave an example of maturity. Today, I in Parliament praise the conduct of citizens," he said.
Pretika Khanna contributed to this story.