Temple in Ayodhya: Short history of an old Sangh Parivar demand

BJP leader LK Advani and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. (Express archive photo)

Following the Supreme Court judgment, a trust set up by the central government will now proceed with the construction of the Ram Temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya.

The RSS, BJP, and VHP have long demanded a temple at the site. The RSS and VHP have also insisted that building a Ram temple in Ayodhya is a matter of faith and not one for courts -- a view that the Supreme Court has, however, rejected.

This is a short history of what the VHP and RSS wanted, and what BJP promised, in Ayodhya.

Early RSS demands

* In 1986, the RSS Pratinidhi Sabha passed a resolution urging the government "to hand over the Janmabhoomi site and adjacent land to the Ram Janmabhoomi Trust for the purpose of developing the hallowed spot in a befitting manner".

* In another resolution in 1987, it referred to the renovation of Somnath temple and said, "The ancient but dilapidated Ram Janmabhoomi temple too needs to be restored to its old glory."

READ | Why Hindus won claim over both the outer and inner courtyard at disputed site

* In 1989, a meeting of the RSS Kendriya Karyakari Mandal passed a resolution reminding then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of his comment that he was instrumental in withdrawal of a case in Calcutta High Court by observing that courts do not have jurisdiction on the holy Quran. It said the same government was making Ram Janmabhoomi debatable in courts and called this a “discriminatory policy”.

First BJP demands

* The BJP first came out in the open in 1989, with a resolution at its national executive meeting in Palampur (Himachal Pradesh): “People’s faith must be respected and Ram Janmabhoomi should be handed over to Hindus. It should be resolved through mutual dialogue between the two communities or, if this was not possible, through an enabling legislation. Litigation is in no way a solution for this matter.”

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* In 1990, when the BJP was supporting the V P Singh-headed government from outside, the VHP was preparing to start construction of a Ram temple from February but postponed it on the PM’s request. At a meeting in Hardwar in June, the VHP announced October 30 as a “non-negotiable” date. Meanwhile, BJP’s L K Advani launched a Ram Rath Yatra from Somnath on September 25 before the Bihar government arrested him in Bhagalpur on October 23, leading to the BJP withdrawing support to the V P Singh government.

BJP leader Uma Bharti hugs Murli Manohar Joshi on December 6, 1990, the day Babri Masjid was demolished. (Express Archive)

* In its 1991 manifesto, the BJP said, “The party is committed to build(ing) Shri Ram Mandir at Janmasthan by relocating superimposed Babri structure with due respect.”

During the Vajpayee regime

* In its 1996 manifesto, the BJP said, “After coming to power the BJP will remove all obstacles in the way of construction of a great temple of Shri Ram in Ayodhya…” Its 1996 government under A B Vajpayee lasted 13 days.

* Heading a coalition (NDA) in 1998 and 1999, the BJP chose to keep controversial issues on the backburner.

* In 2001, when the VHP restarted a movement in Ayodhya, it got no support from the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in UP.

BJP Parliamentary leader Atal Behari Vajpayee after he was invited by President to form the govt along with Murali Manohar Joshi, Vijaya Raje Scindia, Jaswant Singh and LK Advani. (Express archive photo)

* In 2003, the BJP National Executive passed a resolution in Raipur: “Even though the common agenda of the NDA makes no mention of a legislative initiative to resolve the Ayodhya issue, the BJP is of the view that this alternative too should be explored. This is what our party had stated in its Palampur resolution. In the present Parliament, the legislative approach would be fruitful if our allies in the NDA as well as the parties in the Opposition, especially the Congress, extend their support.”

* In 2004, the ruling NDA went for early elections with its National Agenda for Governance, which 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.”

BJP after Vajpayee

* In its 2009 manifesto, the BJP (then out of power) said, “There is an overwhelming desire of the people in India and abroad to have a grand temple at the birthplace of Sri Ram in Ayodhya. The BJP will explore all possibilities, including negotiations and judicial proceedings, to facilitate the construction…”

BJP Leader Narendra Modi and LK Advani. Express archive photo *** Local Caption *** BJP Leader Narendra Modi and LK Advani. Express archive photo

* In its manifesto for the 2014 elections, the BJP said: “The BJP reiterates its stand to explore all possibilities within the framework of the Constitution to facilitate the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya.”