NEW DELHI: Talk of building a Hindu temple at a disputed religious site is a deliberate attempt to create “communal polarization,” India’s main opposition has warned.
The eastern city of Ayodhya has been the scene of deadly riots and communal violence between Hindus and Muslims after a mob tore down a mosque in 1992, saying there was a temple on the site beforehand.
Tens of thousands of Hindus, including senior government-linked figures, converged at Ayodhya on Sunday to demand the construction of a temple at the site.
But the opposition Congress accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and its parent movement the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), of stoking tensions ahead of elections next year.
“Look at the timing,” Congress spokesman Sanjay Jha told Arab News, “the BJP always raises this polarizing issue before a major election. The matter is coming up before the Supreme Court and there is an attempt by the RSS and other organizations to build pressure before that.”
The contested site is under the control of the Supreme Court, which is to examine a 2010 ruling that divided it into three parts. One part was given to Muslims and two parts to Hindus.
“The BJP government has not achieved much in the last four-and -a-half years. All sections of society, ranging from farmers, businessmen to marginalized communities, are in distress. By raising the temple issue the BJP and its paternal organization wants to hide their failure. There is an attempt to deliberately create a communal polarization in the country,” said Jha.
The head of the RSS, Suresh Joshi, told Sunday’s rally there should be a law for a temple to be built at the site and that the BJP should deliver on its commitment.
“Every individual and organization has the democratic right to raise issues of public concern,” BJP spokesman Sudesh Verma said.
“The RSS is well within its rights to make such a demand, more so when a party committed to the construction of a grand temple at the site of the makeshift temple in Ayodhya is in power at the center.”
A New Delhi-based political analyst, Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, said the BJP was spoiling for a fight.
“The party wants to use the temple issue as a hot topic and exploit the religious sentiments of the people for political gains,” he told Arab News. “Ayodhya remains an emotional issue for people in India. In the next elections the BJP will mix the temple issue with other issues and play it out to garner votes. The build-up has already started.”