BJP veteran LK Advani, who turned the sporadic demands for a Ram temple at Ayodhya into a mass movement from the late 1980s, today welcomed the Supreme Court's landmark verdict, saying he stands "vindicated". The court has awarded the disputed 2.77 acres of land to Ram Lalla, the infant Lord Ram who is a respondent in the case, for a temple and an alternate five-acre site at a prominent spot in Ayodhya for a mosque.
"I stand vindicated, and feel deeply blessed, that the Supreme Court has given its unanimous verdict paving the way for the construction of a magnificent temple for Lord Ram at Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya," said Mr Advani.
Before he became the deputy prime minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government, Mr Advani was the face of the temple movement, pushing what used to be a marginal demand since the British period to political centrestage.
In 1990, the call for a temple peaked with his move to hold a 1,700-km rath yatra - from Gujarat's Somnath temple to Ayodhya.
"This is a moment of fulfilment for me because god almighty had given me an opportunity to make my own humble contribution to the mass movement, the biggest since India's Freedom Movement, aimed at the outcome which the Supreme Court's verdict today has made possible," he added.
The judgment, he said, was the culmination of a long and contentious process that played itself out in various forums - judicial and non-judicial - over many decades.
"Now that the prolonged Mandir-Masjid dispute in Ayodhya has come to an end, the time has come to leave all contention and acrimony behind and embrace communal concord and peace," added Mr Advani, who turned 92 yesterday.