Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, attacking ally BJP over the demand for special law to enable the construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya, said today: "We brought down the Babri mosque in 17 minutes, so how much time for a law?" He also warned that people who objected to the temple would not be able to roam freely in the country.
"We brought down Babri in 17 minutes. Ram-bhakts (devotees) removed the blot that had been there for years, within minutes... toh kaagaz banane mein kitna waqt lagta hai(how much time does it take to draw up papers?) If you talk about an ordinance, then from the President's House Rashtrapati Bhavan to Uttar Pradesh, it is BJP all the way. What else do you want?" Sanjay Raut told reporters.
The comment comes when organisations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) have been mobilizing support for a religious gathering in Ayodhya on Sunday to mount pressure on the government. Uddhav Thackerary, the chief of the Shiv Sena - BJP's oldest ally and one of its sharpest critics - will also visit Ayodhya on the weekend. There is heavy security at the temple town where over 5,000 policemen and commandos are on guard.
The Sena has been asking the government to bring an ordinance before the winter session of parliament in December. Asked about the Rajya Sabha, where the government is in a minority, Mr Raut said: "There are many members in the Rajya Sabha who will support a Ram temple across party lines. Whoever is scared or opposed to it, will find it difficult to roam around in this country."
On December 6, 1992, the 16th century Babri mosque in Ayodhya was torn down by scores of Hindu activists who believed it was built on the ruins of an ancient temple marking the birthplace of Lord Ram.
A divisive subject in Indian politics for decades, the temple agenda has sprung back into the spotlight in election season.
The BJP-led central government is under pressure from its allies as well as mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to bring an ordinance or special order after the Supreme Court last month said it would take up the Ayodhya case only in January.
Some 14 petitions have challenged the Allahabad High Court's 2010 verdict partitioning the land into three, between the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla (infant Lord Ram, a party to the case).
The court's decision to move the case to January is seen to have dimmed hopes for a verdict before the national election next year.