New Delhi: PM Modi on Wednesday announced formation of a trust, in line with the Supreme Court verdict, to oversee the construction of a "magnificent" Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
The announcement, just three days before the Delhi polls, raised questions in certain quarters whether it violates the poll code. The Opposition said the announcement should have been made after the polling in Delhi on Saturday.
The Election Commission, however, said no permission was required as the deadline for formation of the trust as per the Supreme Court order is February 9 which is Sunday, a day after voting in Delhi, and the government has to file a compliance report on its order before that date.
PM Modi had obtained formal approval of the Cabinet in the morning itself. The SC had given the government three months to set up the trust.
In a surprise move, PM Modi also chose to announce this decision at the top of the Question Hour in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. ‘‘Let us all work in the direction of building a grand Ram Mandir,’’ PM Modi said in Parliament while reading out a written statement, perhaps for the first time.
PM Modi’s reading out the written statement also stands out as it was the Union home ministry that had been handling all the matters related to the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Ayodhya title suit.
The trust will take all decisions regarding the construction of the temple. 92-year old K Parasaran, the lead counsel for the Hindu parties in the temple-mosque land dispute, is tipped to head the trust. He served as Attorney General of India from 1983 to 1989.Kameshwar Chaupal of Patna will be the Scheduled Caste member of the Trust.
Home Minister Amit Shah had tweeted earlier in the day that "one of the trustees will always be from Dalit community." The other likely names of the trustees are: Jagadguru Shankaracharya Swami Vasudevanand Saraswati Ji Maharaj, Jagadguru Madhvacharya Swami Vishwa Prasanna Tirtha Ji Maharaj, Swami Paramanand Ji Maharaj, Swami Govind Dev Giri Ji Maharaj, Mahant Dinendra Das, Vimlendra Mohan Pratap Mishra and Dr Anil Mishra, a homeopathic doctor, district magistrate of Ayodhya, two members of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas under whose banner the RSS-affiliated Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) carried the temple movement for over three decades and a representative of the Nirmohi Akhara, a body of the Hindu seers.
A home ministry joint secretary is tipped to be brought in for administrative work of the trust. The whole of 67.703 acres, acquired by the Centre after the 1992 Babri Mosque demolition, will be transferred to the trust which will develop the area around the temple for devotees.PM Modi called it the "Sri Ram Janma Bhoomi Tirtha Kshetra Trust" while making the announcement in the House.
The temple is to be built on the ruins of the Babri mosque as decreed by the Apex Court. Those running the movement for the Ram temple for over three decades, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, wanted an Ayodhya-based saint to head the trust, but the government thought otherwise.
Congratulating PM Modi for "many such unprecedented decisions that strengthen social harmony," Home Minister Amit Shah made it clear that the government won't have any control over the trust. "I am confident that millions of people who were waiting for centuries will soon be able to see the grand temple of Lord Shri Ram at his birthplace," Shah added."Aiye, Aiye (come, come).
Let us all support the construction of the grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya," said Modi, sporting a saffron muffler, to deskthumping and shouts of "Jai Shri Ram" from the ruling benches.He said as per the court direction, the Centre has requested the UP government to allocate 5 acres of land to the Sunni Waqf Board.
There was, however, no clarity where the plot for the mosque would be -- whether it would be in Ayodhya close to the temple or across the Sarayu. The Sunni Waqf Board is also yet to disclose what it will do with the land -- as to whether it will accept it and whether it would build a mosque or some other utility for public service.
A UP cabinet minister Shrikant Sharma said in Lucknow the land for the mosque has been allotted "in Dhannipur village on the Lucknow highway, about 18 km from the Ayodhya district headquarters."