By Santosh Kumar Pathak
New Delhi, Aug 15 (IANS): The construction of the grand Ram temple in Ayodhya is an epic saga which has dominated the country's politics for almost four decades.
The matter first came to limelight during Rajiv Gandhi's term as the Prime Minister.
After that in 2020, when the construction work of the grand temple began, it was believed that the BJP's Ayodhya rhetoric would finally end. However, that does not seem to be happening.
The BJP and the Sangh Parivar has fought one of the lengthiest legal battles in the country for the construction of the Ram temple and has also supported the saints in the court.
The party has raised several slogans such as ‘Mandir wahi banayenge' (temple will be constructed there) and performed Kar Seva' as well.
BJP patriarch L.K. Advani was arrested in Bihar during a Ram Rath Yatra and many of its leaders are still facing trial.
Although the BJP has always maintained that the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya is an emotional issue, not a political one, the party has reaped several benefits from it.
How important the issue of Ram temple is for the BJP can be gauged from the statement made by Union Home Minister Amit Shah recently.
On August 5, when the Congress had staged a nation-wide protest against inflation and price rise wearing black clothes, Shah had said: "Price rise and inflation are just excuses. The real agenda of the Congress is to protest against the construction of the grand Ram Mandir. Therefore, they organise protests on August 5 every year.
"The Congress protested wearing black clothes today as Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone for the grand Ram temple in Ayodhya on this day two years ago, and found a very peaceful solution to the nearly 550-year-old problem.
"There were neither riots nor violence anywhere on this. The Prime Minister fulfilled his promise made to crores of people living in the country. Hence, Congress' motive was to send out a message that they oppose the grand temple being built at Ram Janmabhoomi."
Shah's statement made it clear that the Ram temple is no longer an issue but a model, through which the BJP will time and again show the world how a 550-year-old problem was resolved peacefully.
Aiming a hat-trick in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP has already started working on its goal of forming the government at the Centre by winning for the third time in a row.
Like the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Uttar Pradesh and Ayodhya can play an important role in the formation of a BJP government in 2024 as well.
In fact, Ram temple is going to be an effective political plank in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, not only in Uttar Pradesh, but in the entire Hindi heartland, as well as in the southern states.
This is because the temple will be open for devotees from all over the world before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
According to the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, 40 per cent construction work for the Ram temple is complete. By January 2024, the first floor of the temple will be built and the sanctum sanctorum of the temple will open for the devotees.
"From December 2023 onwards, devotees will be able to visit the temple of Sri Ram Lalla," said Champat Rai, General Secretary of the Trust.
However, the entire construction work of the temple is likely to be completed by 2025.
Even though the BJP has always called the Ram temple a matter of faith and not for the courts, the party is going to highlight it, like a jewel in its crown, to sway Hindus to vote in its favour in the 2024 general elections.