Bhagwat, Amit Shah, Hindu saints discuss way forward in Ram temple issue

Amit Shah gave the assurance that the temple will be built in Ayodhya

rss-bhagwat-pti RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat | PTI

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, BJP president Amit Shah and Hindu saints on Friday discussed ways to go ahead with the construction of a temple at the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya, religious leaders who participated in the meeting said.

Bhagwat and saints present at the two-day Hindu Acharya Sabha meeting at Rajkot, which is 210km from Ahmedabad, explicitly expressed the view that construction of the temple should start before May 2019, when the term of the Narendra Modi government ends, they said.

In the meeting, Shah gave the assurance that the temple will be built in Ayodhya, the Hindu leaders said.

"The issue was discussed in detail. One way is the legal route... Political leaders are doing their bit. Saints said they want to push for construction of Ram temple as early as possible," Acharya Satgiri Maharaj, who took part in the meeting which concluded on Friday, said.

"I hope they will do something in two-three months," said Satgiri Maharaj, who hails from Jodhpur in Rajasthan.

The Supreme Court is likely to hear the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title dispute in January.

When asked if the BJP was given an ultimatum to start the construction of the temple before the 2019 polls, Satgiri replied in the negative.

"Mohanji has expressed his desire that construction of the Ram temple should start before 2019 polls, but no ultimatum was given," Satgiri said.

Another saint said Shah shared details of the legal case during the meeting and spoke about the Supreme Court's possibility of taking up the matter in January.

"Shah assured us that the temple will be built at the same spot (in Ayodhya which is under dispute)," the saint said.

A third saint called for patience, saying, "They (RSS and BJP) will do whatever is required (for the construction of the temple)."

RSS spokesperson Vijay Thakar said social, political and educational issues concerning Hindu society are discussed at the Hindu Acharya Sabha, which is held every two years.

Apart from Bhagwat and Shah, senior BJP leaders Ram Madhav and Subramanian Swamy participated in Hindu Sabha.

Swamy said arguments were in favour of Hindus getting the land for Ram temple, but now the question was when will the Supreme Court hear the case.

"(Former prime minister) Narasimha Rao had said 'if it was proved that there was a temple at the same place we will give the land to Hindus'; the Archaeological Survey of India has proved it.

"The Supreme Court has also ruled that the masijd is not an essential part for 'namaz' (prayer) which can be performed anywhere. All things and arguments are in our favour," Swamy told reporters.

"Now we just have to see when the hearing takes place and when the judgement comes," he said.

The meet, attended by around 100 participants, was held at Arsh Vidya Mandir in Rajkot.

Hindutva organisations, including the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, have in the past few months intensified their demand for early construction of the temple, with many of them, including Bhagwat, pitching for a law to enable it.

Though the BJP shares the sentiments expressed by these outfits, the party, which heads a coalition government at the Centre, has so far not come out in open support of a law to pave the way for temple construction.

There is a view within the saffron party that paving the way for the temple's construction will boost its prospects in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.