The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh(RSS) said Friday it will not hesitate to launch an agitation for Ram temple at Ayodhya, if needed, a remark that came amidst a growing clamour for a law to clear the way for its construction at the disputed site in Uttar Pradesh.
RSS general secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi while outlining the organisation's stand on the Ram temple issue at a news conference also said Hindus were feeling "insulted" by the Supreme Court's declaration that it had priorities other than the Ayodhya issue, as he insisted for an ordinance if all options run out.
"We will not hesitate to launch an agitation for Ram temple, if needed, but since the matter is in the Supreme Court, there are restrictions," Joshi said when asked by a newsman whether the Sangh will launch an agitation for Ram temple construction like in the 1990s.
Joshi was interacting with the media after the conclusion of the National Executive meeting of the RSS in Uttan town in Thane district on the outskirts of Mumbai.
Joshi said the RSS, which is the fountainhead of the ruling BJP, was "not putting pressure" on the government as "we respect the law and the Constitution which is why there has been delay."
The RSS leader added that the Ram temple issue was among various matters discussed when BJP president Amit Shah met Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat here earlier in the day.
The 1992 agitation being referred to by the RSS was the rath yatra undertaken under the leadership of BJP veteran L K Advani that provided a base for the larger Ram temple movement and which led to the destruction of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992.
"We respect the Supreme Court and urge it to take into consideration sentiments of Hindus," Joshi said
"The wait for the (Supreme) court's verdict has been too long. Since the matter was listed on October 29, we felt Hindus would get good news before Diwali. But the Supreme Court deferred the hearing," he said.
Joining the chorus for the construction of Ram temple, Union Minister Vijay Goel said it should be undertaken at the earliest even if a legislation is required.
Goel is perhaps the first union minister to suggest exploring a legislative route for the construction of the temple.
Goel, the Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, said a campaign, 'Ek Diya, Ram Ke Naam', for the construction of the Ram temple would be launched on Saturday.
Under the campaign, BJP workers will light a lamp at their homes dedicated to Lord Ram. Goel appealed to people to light a lamp dedicated to Lord Ram this Diwali, the festival of lights.
"It is a wish of crores of people that Ram temple should be constructed. The temple should be built at the earliest through any way, be it constitutional or legislation or court or through dialogue between all the parties. The temple should be constructed," Goel told PTI in Delhi.
Goel's demand for early construction of the Ram temple came just a day after his party MP Rakesh Sinha announced he would bring a private member's bill on this issue in Parliament's upcoming winter session next month
Reacting to Joshi's remarks on the agitation for a Ram temple, estranged BJP ally Shiv Sena said the RSS should bring down the Modi government if it felt the need to launch such a stir.
"The issue of Ram temple was sidelined after the Modi government assumed office. When the Sena took up the issue and decided to insist on the construction of the temple, the RSS now feels a need for agitation to press the demand," Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray told reporters in Mumbai. Thackeray is going to Ayodhya later this month in support of the Ram temple.
"If you (the RSS) feel the need for agitation despite having a strong government in place, why don't you pull down this government," he said.
At his news conference, Joshi said the temple issue is closely linked to the faith and sentiments of Hindus and it is painful to hear that it does not figure on the priority list of the court.
"It is a matter of pain and anguish that an issue which Hindus consider their faith and sentiment is not in the priority list of the court... Hindus are feeling insulted."
The RSS expected the court to decide on the issue, "taking into consideration the sentiments of the Hindu community," Joshi said.
The RSS leader said a legal sanction is required to pave way for the construction of the temple.
Asked about the demand of various Sangh Parivar outfits for an ordinance for early construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, he said it was the right of those asking for the Hindu shrine.
"The government should consider this option if all other options run out... it is up to the government," he said.
At the same time, he added, "Unless the Supreme Court takes a decision on the title suit, it is difficult for the government to take any decision."
Joshi was asked if the RSS was putting pressure on the government and why the temple issue was not being decided by the government since it has a majority.
"We are not putting pressure. But we will build consensus. We respect the law and the constitution which is why there has been delay," he added.
Joshi said the RSS has been agitating for 30 years to have a Ram temple in Ayodhya.
"The hindu society wants all hurdles to be cleared to pave the way for temple construction. The wait has been too long," he said.
(With inputs from agencies.)