For Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari, the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya is an issue that is larger than the saffron party. In an interview with Shashi Bhushan, Mr Tiwari, who is also a Lok Sabha MP, says that PM Narendra Modi’s BJP government is committed to fulfil the demand of Hindus to build a grand temple at the birthplace of Lord Ram.
After four-and-a-half years of the Narendra Modi government, focus has suddenly shifted to the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. Is there any specific reason or strategy behind this, perhaps the fact that Lok Sabha elections are to be held in 2019?
Construction of the “grand” Ram temple at Lord Ram’s birthplace is not a new issue and this demand has been there since the last 68 years. Hindus, the most liberal and optimistic community, believe in the country’s judicial system and they have been waiting for justice. When they failed to get justice from the judiciary, there was an emotional outburst in 1992 in which the disputed structure at Lord Ram’s birthplace was razed to the ground. The nation is because of its citizens and it’s the prime duty of any country to fulfil the aspirations of its own people. Once again people have been waiting for justice since 1992, but all in vain. The Supreme Court is saying that the Ram temple case is not its priority, which is very unfortunate and has hurt the faith of millions of people. Not only Hindus, but a majority of the people of this country want a quick decision on the Ayodhya issue. When I talk about the majority of the people, it means the majority of countrymen, — only a handful of people are opposing it for their petty interests. The BJP and its leadership is committed to the noble cause to build a grand temple in Ayodhya.
You mentioned that due to the delay caused by the courts, the structure was brought down in 1992. Should we expect a similar agitation for the construction of the Ram temple in the coming days?
I have already said that the majority of the people in our country want that a quick decision should be taken on this matter. But our Apex Court is saying that the Ram temple is not on its priority list, which has agitated the citizens of our country. Now Ram bhakts have to take a decision to finalise their future course of action. Personally, I feel that the country may witness a movement similar to that of 1992. Based on the technical and scientific survey by the Archaeological Survey of India, the high court has already said that a temple existed at the disputed site. But unfortunately, our top court is busy hearing matters other than the Ayodhya issue.
Do you mean that the Supreme Court is transgressing its boundaries?
Sometimes it seems so as there are several cases before the Apex Court which could have been disposed off by the lower courts. Why isn’t the SC coming out with a solution on this matter? It should find a solution to function even if some judges are on leave. Even in Parliament, if members including the Speaker are not present, there is a procedure to conduct the proceedings in their absence. Similarly, in the absence of judges, the Supreme Court must not be closed and should rather function smoothly.
There is a demand to bring in a law in Parliament to clear the obstructions coming in the way of construction of the Ram temple. Is the Union government planning anything of the sort?
The BJP is in favour of a grand Ram temple at the birthplace of Lord Ram. Construction of the Ram temple at Ayodhya is an issue which is bigger than the party and the BJP government under the leadership of Mr Modi is committed to fulfil the demands of Hindus. The Modi government will clear all obstructions that are coming in the way of the construction of the Ram temple. In the coming days, Ram bhakts will hear some good news from the Modi government.
Is the Union government going to bring any law or ordinance in favour of the Ram temple?
Wait for some time. The government will make everyone aware of its decision based on the sentiments of the people of our country. The Modi government is working for the people and its decision will be based on public sentiment.
A section of Congress leaders are claiming that it was during Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure that the lock of the Ram temple was opened for devotees. Do you think the Congress is trying to make inroads into your core vote-bank?
There is no doubt that Rajiv Gandhi allowed the opening of the lock of the temple for devotees but the question is that does his family and his son respect his decision? Giving respect to late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s decision, Congress president Rahul Gandhi should support the construction of a grand Ram temple at Ayodhya. Not respecting the late Prime Minister’s and also his father’s decision raises several questions about the Congress party’s intentions.
Is the outcome of the Karnataka by-polls a warning for Mr Modi — that he is losing popularity ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls?
If you analyse the Karnataka bypoll results, it is not 4-1 as shown by the media. All the parties, including the BJP, retained their seats except in Bellary, which the BJP lost after 14 years. Bellary was with the BJP since the last 14 years and earlier it was won by the Congress. If you analyse minutely, the BJP lost only Bellary, otherwise everyone has won their respective seats. Defeat in one seat doesn’t reflect on the popularity of Prime Minister Modi. When bypolls are held in any seat, local issues come into play as it doesn’t affect the state or Central government. Voters are smart. They know that whoever wins the Lok Sabha bypolls will get a term of only a few months. But when the same voters vote next year to elect the next Prime Minister of the country, they will once again cast their votes in favour of the BJP to elect Mr Modi as the Prime Minister. The Opposition should understand that Mr Modi is the most popular leader in the country and, since 2014, the BJP has formed governments in 20 states under his leadership, which establishes that his popularity chart has grown phenomenally, in India and in foreign destinations as well.
Do you think bypoll results will harm the BJP’s prospects in the five state Assembly elections to be held in November and December?
The BJP is confident of forming a government in all the five states. A section of media are saying the party will lose in Rajasthan but mark my words, the BJP will form a government in the state (Rajasthan) in December. People are with the inclusive developmental agenda of Prime Minister Modi. The country witnessed overall development in the last four-and-a-half years and governments in BJP-ruled states are also growing tremendously with support from the Centre. Prime Minister Modi has the clear policy of “Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas” and a special focus on states which need extra attention. That’s the reason why special attention was accorded to North Eastern states by the Union government. People will vote for development and that is possible only under BJP rule.
In the run up to next year’s general elections, there is some trouble in the BJP-led NDA as some alliance partners are not happy with the treatment they are getting in seat-sharing negotiations. Is it a reason for concern for the BJP and its leadership?
Our national president Amit Shah is leading the world’s largest party of over around 350 members of Parliament in both the Houses. Mr Shah is always ready to reach out to allies, whether big or small. Mr Shah met the leadership of a party with 10 or 15 members of Parliament in both the Houses. The BJP president is always ready to accept genuine demands but some people, ignoring his humbleness, are demanding things which are not right. Mr Shah is a modern age “Chankaya” and knows how to manage organisations and win elections. Despite this he is trying to reach out to everyone. There are some people who are making the wrong demands.