Denying that the pre-election timing had something to do with the general elections, Madhav said that the temple trust had been demanding the return of its land for the past 23 years.
New Delhi, Jan 29: Filing the petition in the Supreme Court to return the “excess” land adjacent to the disputed site in Ayodhya was the least the government could do for the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said on Tuesday.
Rejecting suggestions that the timing had something to do with the upcoming general elections, Madhav told News18 that the Nyas, a trust to promote construction of Ram Temple, had been demanding the return of its land for the past 23 years.
“The Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas had in 1996 for the first time demanded that their land be returned to them. Since then, successive governments have not done what was needed, that is to seek the approval of the SC,” he said.
“As you may have noticed, there has been some delay in the SC for one reason or the other. Finally, today we decided this is the minimum we could do. If we can return the 42 acre land (to the Nyas), it’ll be a good move,” he added.
The ruling BJP has been facing growing pressure from the RSS in the face of judicial delays. Its petition seeking the return of land to the original owners came a day after the apex court cancelled the hearing because one of the judges, Justice SA Bobde, was not available due to medical reasons.
Madhav also argued that there was no question of the government move hurting any sentiments as the land in question was privately owned by the temple trust.
“Where is the question of sentiment of the minority community in a land that belongs to Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas?” he asked.
The Centre has informed the court that it had acquired 67.7 acres of land, including the disputed Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid site in 1993, and sought permission of the top court to return the excess land to its original owners. Of the 67.7 acres, nearly 42 belongs to the temple trust.
Madhav said that the central government had already paid compensation for the other 25 acres, but the 47 land owners of the Nyas had refused to take compensation, and instead, demanded their land back.
The government’s plea also emphasised that only 0.313 area, upon which the Babri mosque stood, is the bone of contention and since the ownership of the “excess” and “superfluous” area is beyond any dispute, their land should be released from acquisition.
The court had in 2003 and 2011 imposed a complete status quo on entire 67.7 acre of the land acquired by the government in 1993, saying that returning it could complicate the dispute further.
The BJP general secretary also rejected that the move was a panic reaction to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s entry into politics, which has turned the battle for Uttar Pradesh into a triangular contest.
“All we want is that the main issue of Ram Temple dispute gets settled as quickly as possible. But it was not happening… for some reason they kept postponing the very commitment to the hearing itself, so we thought this is the minimum we should do,” he reiterated.