The Supreme Court on Monday said that it will decide on the date of hearing for the Ayodhya dispute in January next year, dealing a severe blow to the BJP. The apex court said that the decision to refer the matter to appropriate bench will be taken only the next year.
The BJP was keen to have the hearing resumed and verdict issued at the earliest, ideally before the the next year’s Lok Sabha polls. The saffron party, grappling with the anger due to poor governance and charges of corruptions, has been desperately wanting to capitalise on the religious sentiments. Building a temple in Ayodhya at the site, where the Babri Masjid existed until 6 December 1992, has been a key election pledge for the BJP.
On Monday, it took just four minutes for the Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph to announce that the date for the Ayodhya hearing will be decided in January, just few weeks before the Lok Sabha elections.
Reacting to the development, BJP’s Keshav Prasad Maurya, also a deputy chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, told ANI, “I don’t want to comment since it’s the decision of Supreme Court. However, the adjournment of hearing doesn’t send a good message.”
AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi was quoted as saying, “Why don’t they bring it (ordinance on Ram temple)? Let them do it. Every time they are threatening that they will bring an ordinance. Every Tom, Dick & Harry of BJP, RSS, VHP says this. Do it. You are in power. I challenge you to do it. Let us see.”
In September this year, the top court refused to revisit its 1994 order that the government could acquire land, where a mosque was built on.
Had the top court decided to revisit the 1994 Ismail Farooqui judgment that said that mosques were not an integral part of religious practice of offering prayers, it would have delayed the verdict on the title suit of Babri Masjid.
If the Supreme Court decided to revisit the issue of whether namaaz can be offered anywhere or in a mosque, then the hearing on the title suit challenging the Allahabad High Court’s judgement would have stopped and the verdict was not possible before 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
This would have been a setback to the BJP, which has promised to build a temple at the site of Babri Masjid. Faced with poor governance and huge corruption allegations, the Centre’s Narendra Modi government has been hoping a favourable judgement from the Supreme Court so that the saffron party is able to cash in on religious polarisation to win the next year’s elections.