A day after the BJP’s poll debacle in three Hindi heartland states, NCP chief Sharad Pawar Wednesday said the Ram temple issue might not work in favour of the saffron party again, unlike in the past, if it is raised ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
He alleged that the BJP may try to create a communal divide on the temple issue which is a “matter of concern”.
The BJP is under pressure from its ideological mentor RSS, alliance partner Shiv Sena and Hindutva organisations which are demanding a parliamentary law or an ordinance for construction of Ram temple.
Sena MPs on Wednesday staged a protest in the Lok Sabha demanding immediate construction of the temple.
“The issue of Ram temple was used once in the past and the BJP stood benefited by it. In case they (the BJP) raise the issue again, people do not accept an issue twice… So, I don’t think it (Ram temple) will benefit them (the BJP),” Pawar said.
The veteran politician was speaking to reporters after meeting scores of party workers who had gathered here to greet him on his 78th birthday.
The BJP, which was in power in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh since the last 15 years, lost to the Congress in the assembly polls, results for which were announced Tuesday. The Congress also looks set to form government in Rajasthan, ruled by the saffron party until now.
Stating that people do not accept the same issue twice, Pawar referred to the general elections held post Emergency and the assembly polls held in Maharashtra over the issue of ‘Samyukta (joint) Maharashtra’ in 1950s and 1960s.
He said Indira Gandhi-led Congress had to taste defeat in the 1977 Lok Sabha polls which was held after imposition of Emergency.
The Janata alliance of parties, opposed to the ruling Congress party, had won that elections riding on the anti-Congress wave.
“But that issue (Emergency) did not appeal to the people when the (Lok Sabha) elections were held again (in 1980),” he noted.
Pawar also recalled the Congress was defeated in Maharashtra in 1955-56 Assembly polls over the issue of the Samyukta Maharashtra.
“But in the 1962 Assembly polls, the Congress came back to power as people did not accept the Samyukta Maharashtra issue,” he added.
In his annual Vijaya Dashmi rally held in Nagpur this October, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had demanded a law to pave the way for construction of the temple on the disputed site in Ayodhya.
Many Hindu organisations have been demanding construction of the temple, as promised by the BJP before coming to power in 2014.
The BJP has been saying that it was committed to the construction of the temple, but is silent on bringing an ordinance in Parliament for the purpose.
The matter of Ayodhya title suits is currently pending in the Supreme Court.