Ram temple: VHP calls meeting, says construction to begin in 18 months

New Delhi: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), which has been in the forefront of a campaign for Ram temple construction in Ayodhya, has convened a meeting of its top leaders later this month to discuss the issue, amid its assertion that the work on the project will start within one-and-a-half years.

Alok Kumar, the Working President of the VHP, made it clear that his organisation will not wait “indefinitely” on Ram temple construction and has decided to “remind” the Narendra Modi government about its promise within the first month of its second term.

“One thing is clear, VHP will not compromise on two issues – firstly, only a temple will be built at the birthplace of Lord Ram and secondly, there can be no mosque within the cultural limits of Ayodhya,” he told IANS.

Kumar said VHP’s ‘margdarshak samiti’ will meet in Haridwar on June 19-20 to discuss the matter and pass a resolution which will be handed over to Prime Minister Modi.

“We will pass a resolution and give it to the Prime Minister. We will remind him that the promise about Ram temple has been made in your manifesto,” the VHP leader said.

Construction of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya has been one of the top issues on the agenda of the BJP and has found mention in all the party’s manifestos for the Lok Sabha elections.

The Prime Minister, at the same time, has maintained that the government will wait for the outcome of the judicial process which is underway.

The matter is currently before the Supreme Court which recently appointed a three-member committee of negotiators to talk to all the stakeholders and give a report by August 15.

To underscore the point about urgency, Kumar said the issue would be taken up with the Prime Minister within the first month of his new government which took over on May 30.

At the same time, the top VHP leader said since the government has taken over just now, there needs to be some bit of patience.

“The government has just come. We will need to wait a bit,” Kumar said.

But when pointed out that some people feel that the wait for Ram temple has been going on for three decades, which includes five years of Modi’s first term, he shot back, “Ab nahi karenge (now we will not wait)…We will not wait indefinitely.”

The VHP leader went on to add, “Work on Ram temple will start in one to one-and-a-half years. I am not conjecturing but telling you as an informed person.”

He said, “We will meet the PM and convey to him that we are steadfast in our resolve (to build the Ram temple)…We will build pressure on the government. They (BJP) also want it to happen.”

He said former Chief Justice Dipak Misra had given indications from the bench about resolving the issue during his tenure which ended in October last year. “That is why we said we will wait till September last year. But we will not wait now,” Kumar said.

He noted that “several things have happened lately” which includes the appointment of mediators by the top court.

“If they are able to sort it out, then it is good. They have a deadline of August 15. They have said they will do whatever is possible by July-end. We have cooperated with them with an open heart,” the VHP leader said.

VHP sources, meanwhile, said while it will not accept anything less than construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya, it will have no problem if the government allots land and gives funds for building of a grand mosque at some Muslim-dominated places such as Lucknow.