From '96 to '19, will BJP continue its agenda of building Ram Mandir if brought back to power?

Madhuri Adnal

New Delhi, May 21: Ram Mandir issue has always featured in every Lok Sabha manifesto released by the BJP and is nothing new about it. The battle cry for a Ram temple in Ayodhya rose the loudest in 1992 when Babri Masjid was demolished under L K Advani's watch, propelling the saffron party to electoral success.

Since then, the construction of a 'Ram Mandir' in Ram janmabhoomi has been a consistent promise of the BJP.

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They have been promising it ever since the first Lok Sabha polls in 1996.

And like the Ram temple, 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and state assemblies too has remained an election pledge since it was first mentioned by the BJP in its 1996 manifesto.

The first reference to a Ram temple in Ayodhya came in the 1989 Lok Sabha battle but at that time, the BJP did not speak about constructing one at the site where the 16th century Babri Masjid stood.

The 1989 reference said: "By not allowing the rebuilding of the Ram Janma Mandir in Ayodhya, on the lines of Somnath Mandir built by the Government of India in 1948, it (government) has allowed tensions to rise, and gravely strained social harmony."

In the next elections in 1991, the saffron party said it firmly believed that construction of Ram Mandir at 'Jamnasthan' (birthplace) of Lord Ram was a symbol of the vindication of "our cultural heritage and national self-respect".

In 1996 election manifesto, the BJP "reiterated its commitment to facilitate the construction of a magnificent Ram temple at Janmasthan in Ayodhya on coming to power as this dream moves millions of people in our land; the concept of Ram lies at the core of their consciousness."

In 1999, when the BJP returned to power after losing a parliamentary vote of confidence, the party kept away from the temple issue, more to please many of its allies in the coalition.

However, in 2004, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) manifesto said: "The NDA believes that an early and amicable resolution of the Ayodhya issue will strengthen national integration. We continue to hold that the judiciary's verdict in this matter should be accepted by all. At the same time, efforts should be intensified for dialogue and a negotiated settlement in an atmosphere of mutual trust and goodwill."

In 2009, the BJP said there was an overwhelming desire of the people to have a grand temple at the birthplace of Ram in Ayodhya and it again promised to explore all possibilities to facilitate such a construction.

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In 2014, the party had promised something quite similar.

BJP reiterates its stand to explore all possibilities within the framework of the constitution to facilitate the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

The 2019 manifesto says:

We reiterate our stand on Ram Mandir. We will explore all possibilities within the framework of the Constitution and all necessary efforts to facilitate the expeditious construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

The RSS and the VHP have always demanded that the BJP deliver on its promise of temple construction. So where is this temple? Several questions have been raised whether BJP will again take up this agenda pertaining to Ram Mandir issue if brought back to power?

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