New Delhi: The Supreme Court’s decision to refer the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case for mediation will “merely cause delay” and not yield anything since “there is no barter to be made”, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ideological parent the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) believe.
A highly placed source in the BJP said the party is not pleased about the mediation since it will only “delay the already much-delayed issue” even further.
Sources in the RSS said the Sangh agrees.
The Sangh believes “its established stand means there is no room for negotiation and hence, mediation” which has “led to no results all these years”.
On Friday, a five-judge constitution bench of the apex court appointed a panel of mediators, led by former Supreme Court judge F.M.I. Kalifulla, to arbitrate on the issue. The panel has been given 8 weeks.
Spiritual leader and Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu are the other panel members.
For the BJP, RSS and other affiliates like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Ram temple issue has been a consistent, aggressive and intense agenda. The BJP’s steep rise in politics since the early 1990s can be attributed to the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and its politics continues to be influenced by its Hindutva core.
With the Lok Sabha elections, the party was hoping for a favourable court verdict but now feels the mediation will only hold up the contentious issue further.
“We were not happy with the mediation idea. This will merely delay an already much-delayed issue further. If mediation had to be the solution, it would have happened much earlier,” said a highly placed BJP source who did not wish to be identified.
“If it had to be resolved by mediation, then why wait for decades then? Attempts at mediation have been made in the past as well, including by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and even J.S. Khehar (former Chief Justice of India) had suggested it, but it never worked,” said the source.
‘No scope for barter’
The RSS too believes this will only lead to delay and not a solution since there is “no scope for any barter”.
“The whole idea behind mediation and its entire premise is give and take — essentially, some kind of barter. But we believe we have nothing to give to the Muslim parties in return,” said an RSS functionary on condition of anonymity.
“And they will obviously not agree to leave it for nothing in the mediation process.”
“The Sangh’s established stand is that nothing except a Ram temple can be constructed on the disputed site. That no new mosque can be built there,” said the functionary.
“This means there is no room for negotiation at all and hence, none for mediation. We wanted the court to rule.”
The RSS and BJP have also held that the issue is not a land dispute and is a question of faith.
“This isn’t a land dispute that a mediation can solve. It is a matter of faith, which means no deliberations can help. Our stand has always been unequivocal,” said another BJP leader who did not wish to be named given the case is still sub-judice.
In public, however, BJP leaders are being more cautious and sending out mixed signals. While welcoming mediation, BJP leaders have said “nothing but a Ram temple can be constructed at the site”.
“We welcome the decision of mediation and efforts should be made to ensure that the dispute is settled amicably. Hindus across the nation are waiting for the construction of a Ram mandir in Ayodhya,” BJP leader and cabinet minister in the Uttar Pradesh government Srikant Sharma said.
Meanwhile, senior leader and Union minister Uma Bharti, told The Indian Express “there should be a national consensus” for building the Ram temple at the site in Ayodhya.
“It is clear the Supreme Court is very keen to sort it out. It is a good thing. We must remember that one party in this dispute itself is Ram Lalla Viraajman,” she said.
“The way to be found is how to construct a temple there. Except the temple, nothing can be constructed.”
Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said he will not question the order.
“I won’t question SC order. In the past, efforts made to arrive at a solution, but with no success. No Lord Ram devotee or saint wants delay in construction of Ram Mandir,” he said.
Sources in the BJP said party leaders and workers have been asked not to talk much about the issue publicly for now.