On the penultimate day of campaigning for the first phase of the Gujarat Assembly polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday accused the Congress of “linking” the Ram temple with politics and attacked senior party leader Kapil Sibal for asking the Supreme Court to defer the hearing on the issue till after the 2019 general election.
Mr Sibal had told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that since the court’s decision in the case would have very serious ramifications, the hearing should be deferred till July 2019 by which time the general election will be over. The court, however, rejected that, and said it would hear the matter on February 8, 2018.
Mr Modi, addressing an election rally in Gujarat on Wednesday, said the Congress was now linking Ram Mandir with politics. “Kapil Sibal, a Congress MP, argued in the Supreme Court yesterday in the Babri Masjid case. He can argue in court, but is it right for him to say postpone the hearing till 2019? Why is he linking the elections with Ram Mandir?”
“Does the (Sunni) Waqf Board fight elections? Are these thoughts of delaying the hearing for elections that of the Waqf Board? The elections in the country are being fought by the Congress Party. You want to keep the issue unresolved for political gain and losses in the elections?” Mr Modi declared.
The Prime Minister also wondered why the Congress wanted to “create hurdles” when the Sunni Waqf Board, a party to the title dispute represented by Mr Sibal, wanted resolution of the Ayodhya tangle.
“The Sunni Waqf Board must be congratulated for their brave stand on the matter and disassociating themselves from the statement of Kapil Sibalji,” he said.
Mr Sibal was quick to hit back, saying the Prime Minister was factually wrong in stating that he represented the Sunni Waqf Board in the court. “I am saddened that the Prime Minister and BJP president have said I represent the Sunni Waqf Board in court. I did not represent the Sunni Waqf Board.”