Not building temple would prove costly for BJP: Uddhav Thackeray
AYODHYA: Ayodhya turned into a veritable fortress Sunday as right-wing group Vishwa Hindu Parishad held a massive gathering to drum support for the building of a Ram temple. The meet demanded that the government pass an ordinance or executive order to bypass the legal process. The Ayodhya title suit is pending in the Supreme Court, which will take a call on the date of hearing in January. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who has been in Ayodhya since Saturday and held a rally, warned that unless the temple is built, the BJP will find itself out of power.
Thackeray, who has accused the BJP of dragging its feet on temple construction, Sunday said, "Do whatever it is you have to do. A temple has to be built This government is mighty, and if they (the BJP) don't build a temple they will not be in government".
The VHP, which has been upping the ante for Ayodhya for weeks through rallies and other public events, said its "Dharma Sansad" would be the biggest-ever gathering of saints for the temple. The VHP said they were expecting 3 lakh people. Sources said around 50,000 people attended the event.
Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya frowned upon Shiv Sena's push for a temple. "The Shiv Sena had no role in the temple movement or even in the Dharam Sabha," he said.
Five companies of Rapid Action Force personnel, anti-terrorism squads, 42 companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary and nearly 1,000 policemen have been deployed in the town. Unmanned drones are being used to monitor the situation from the air.
Samajwadi Party chief and former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has said the Army should be deployed in Ayodhya if need be, to maintain law and order. Similar views were expressed by Uttar Pradesh minister OP Rajbhar, who described the mass gathering of right-wing elements in such a sensitive area as a "failure of the government".
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati alleged the BJP and the Shiv Sena are raking up the Ram temple issue ahead of the Lok Sabha polls to divert attention from their failures.
Uddhav Thackeray has said his two-day visit is not linked to the VHP event. The Sena chief, who landed in Ayodhya Saturday evening with his wife and son - said it was his first visit to the temple town, a pilgrimage to seek 'darshan' of Ram Lalla.
All India Muslim Personal Law Board chief Zafaryab Jilani said the idea of a VHP meet has "terrified" the Muslim residents of the city. "The Muslims living in Ayodhya are living in fear for the past week. We have also asked those feeling insecure to come to Lucknow if they want," Jilani told a news agency.
Ahead of the mass gathering, the Uttar Pradesh government announced that the proposed Ram statue on the bank of river Sarayu, the signature tourist attraction of Ayodhya, will measure 221 metres - taller than the Sardar Patel statue in Gujarat.
In November, the Supreme Court declined an early hearing of petitions in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case. A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S K Kaul said it had already listed the appeals before the appropriate bench in January.
(With agency inputs)