Saffron leaders push for Ram Mandir before UP polls

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI (TIP): The Shiv Sena asked the Narendra Modi government on Oct 13 to start constructing the Ram Temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, joining other pro-Hindut va leaders in ra king up the contentious issue ahead of assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.

An editorial in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana said the BJP was well placed to settle the issue. “If the temple cannot be built today, it will never be built,” the Sena said.

The Sena comments followed B JP parliamentarian Sub ram an ian Swamy and firebrand Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Praveen Toga di a prod ding the government on temple construction at the site where the historic Babri mosque was demolished by a Hindu mob on December 6, 1992.

The Sena’s stand on the temple is seen as an attempt to woo hardline Hindu voters in the state where it plans to expand its presence by fielding candidates in 200 constituencies despite failing to win a single seat in 2012.

The BJP is attempting to capture power in UP where it has been out of power for 14 years.

However, the party has so far taken a neutral stand apparently in a bid to not antagonise the sizeable Muslim voters.

“There has been plenty of politics over the Ram mandir issue. Now, decide once and for how long you want to go on politicising it… Don’t just raise slogans, start picking up bricks,” the Sena mouthpiece said, taunting Modi by pointing out that his own constituency was in the state.

In an interview to a TV channel on Wednesday, Swamy said Ram mandir will be a crucial issue in the UP elections.

“If we don’t raise it in UP, then where will we raise it? It is on our manifesto and will definitely be our main focus,” Swamy was quoted as saying.

After Modi chanted ‘Jai Shree Ram’ in Lucknow’ on Tuesday, To g adia asked the Prime Minister to build the temple.

BJP leaders, however, remained non-committal.

“We appreciate the emotions and faith in Ram mandir and even (the) BJP manifesto is a reflection of that faith and emotion. However, being a responsible government, we have to follow the Constitution, which says either though discussion or court,” BJP secretary Sidharth Nath Singh said.