Demand for bringing an Ordinance for early construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya grew stronger on Monday within the BJP and various Sangh Parivar outfits, while the Congress called for restraint and awaiting the Supreme Court verdict without linking the issue with votebank politics.
Soon after the Supreme Court said the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute cases would be heard by an appropriate bench in the first week of January 2019, voices emerged within the BJP favouring early construction of the temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya.
BJP leader Vinay Katiyar alleged that the issue was being delayed "under pressure" from the Congress, which denied the charge.
"The decision is being delayed under pressure from the Congress. People like Kapil Sibal and Prashant Bhushan are pressing for delaying the issue. Till when will Ram bhakts (devotees) wait? In 2019, the Congress will come to know," he said.
His party colleague Sanjeev Baliyan said, "I am surprised at the priorities of the court. I am of the view that the Ram Temple should be constructed. The government should explore all possibilities."
BJP's ally Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said the Ram temple is an issue of faith and demanded that the government comes out with an Ordinance soon.
"It is a matter of faith. The court cannot decide on this. The government should bring an ordinance," he said.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, however, it was a familiar story every five years before the elections when the BJP tries to polarise the issue.
"The Congress's stated position is that the matter is before the Supreme Court and everyone should wait until the Supreme Court decides... We should not jump the gun," he told reporters.
To a question on possibility of an ordinance for construction of the temple, he said the ordinance has to be decided by the government and not by Parliament.
"If someone asks for an ordinance, the Prime Minister has to respond to them, but as you know, he will not respond to any issue," he said.
Another Congress leader Anand Sharma said, "Everyone should patiently wait for the Supreme Court verdict. Congress party has stated that it will welcome and accept the Supreme Court verdict."
He said religion is a matter of faith and linking this issue to the vote bank politics will be a disservice to the nation.
The All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Asaddudin Owaisi dared the government to bring an ordinance, saying the BJP refers to the Ram Temple again and again.
"If they have the courage, they should bring an Ordinance on Ram Temple construction. They are trying to scare us about bringing an Ordinance, why don't they bring it," he said.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) working president Alok Kumar said Hindus cannot wait eternally for a court judgement on the Ayodhya land dispute case and asked the government to bring a law for building a Ram temple.
He urged the Narendra Modi government to bring a legislation in the Winter Session of Parliament.
"The Supreme Court has once again adjourned the hearing. This fortifies the VHP's stand that the solution to the Ram Janambhoomi issue is not in eternally waiting for hearing of appeals pending for over seven years.
"We reiterate our request to the Union government to enact a law to clear the way for building a grand temple of Lord Ram at his birthplace in Ayodhya," Kumar said.
On allegations by some BJP leaders that the delay was under pressure from some Congress leaders, Chidambaram said, "The Supreme Court will decide when to hear the case. We don't decide when the court will hear the case."
The VHP has called a two-day 'Dharam Sansad', a meeting of seers, on January 31 and February 1 next year to discuss the Ram temple issue. This will be held on the sidelines of the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad.
Earlier this month, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had also favoured a law to enable construction of Ram temple, saying it was necessary for "self-esteem" and to usher in an "atmosphere of goodwill and oneness".
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, said the appropriate bench will decide the future course of hearing in January next year on the appeals filed against the Allahabad High Court verdict in the Ayodhya land dispute case.
"We will fix the date of hearing of the Ayodhya dispute case before the appropriate bench in January," said the bench, which also comprised Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph.
Earlier, a three-judge bench, by a 2:1 majority, had refused to refer to a five-judge constitution bench the issue of reconsideration of the observations in its 1994 judgement that a mosque was not integral to Islam. The matter had arisen during the hearing of the Ayodhya land dispute.
An apex court bench headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the civil suit has to be decided on the basis of evidence, adding that the previous verdict has no relevance to this issue.
CPI leader D Raja said the matter is sub-judice but the BJP leaders are making statements regarding the temple construction through ordinance route.
"We are not an autocratic system, democratic institutions should take cognisance of these kinds of statements," he said.
Raja's party colleague Sudhakar Reddy said the CPI is against "ordinance-raj" and the government should wait for the court judgement.
"We will abide by the court decision on the issue," he said.