NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are not serious about the Ayodhya Ram temple but are using it to "exploit emotions" of the people during every election, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal has said.
Sibal, a prominent lawyer who appeared in the case for the Sunni Wakf Board till December 2017, rejected the allegations of the Prime Minister that Congress lawyers were stalling the resolution of the case that had been going on for over two decades.
"They are not interested. They are again fooling the people. This is yet another 'jumla' (gimmick). (They are) exploiting emotions of the people," he told IANS while targeting Modi and the BJP over the politically and religiously sensitive issue which is now under the Supreme Court's consideration.
"For Modi, it (temple issue) is not a matter of faith, because if it were a matter of faith, they would have raised it much earlier, Modi in 2014 (when he became the Prime Minister) and others much earlier," he added.
"In fact, he (Modi) was never serious. They are not serious about Ram mandir. They are not at all serious about Ram mandir," he said. "If they were serious, why did they not raise it in 2014 or 2015 on 2016 or 2017?"
The Congress leader said the BJP "forgot" about Ram temple "all these years and just before elections, they wanted to raise it. Why? Because they want to use it always. This promise they have made to the country for the last 30 years. But they have never been able to fulfil this".
Asking why the BJP has not been fulfiling its promise of building a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya, he said: "Because they are not serious about it. They want to keep this matter alive to use it every time for elections. They are not serious about this, forget about everyone else."
On March 8, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court ordered a court-monitored mediation in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case to arrive at a "permanent solution" to the issue.
It appointed a committee of three mediators, headed by retired Justice F.M. Kallifulla, to undertake mediation in Faizabad.
Sibal was asked to comment on the Prime Minister's contention that the "Congress lawyers" were stalling the resolution of the Ayodhya issue in the Supreme Court. "How?... He may say (it) but there must be some basis," he shot back.
He said the Congress was never a party in those proceedings.
"I last appeared in this case in December 2017. We are now in 2019. Who stopped the court from deciding the matter? Congress party or a Congress lawyer? In fact, Congress lawyers appeared for the Ram mandir. Mr (Mohan) Parasaran. Who is he? The Congressman... He appeared for whom? For the Ram mandir.
"See there are not parties there, these are individuals. Congress lawyer appeared for Ram mandir also. Parasaran is not a Congress lawyer? At least, I did not appear after December 2017. He continued to appear," Sibal added.
He went on to add: "So this (PM's allegation) again is false, factually false, because since 2017, 15 hearings took place. Who stopped?"
Targeting the BJP, Sibal said: "What is their discourse - that if court decides against, we will not accept. We will accept only if the court decides in our favour. On the one hand, they say, their lawyer says, it is a title suit, on the other hand, they say it is a matter of faith. Both can't go together."