Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath welcomed Centre's big move on the Ayodhya Ram Mandir issue on Tuesday by filing a petition in the Supreme Court seeking permission to return all excess acquired land at the Ram Janmabhoomi site.
"It is welcoming. I congratulate the Central government's decision and this is on one's own respect of faith and a dispute that has been going on for years. We've been telling this from the beginning, the application that has been sent by the Central government, we must get permission to work on the undisputed land ... We welcome the Central government's this move," he said.
The Centre's application reads that about 67 acres of land was acquired in all, over 25 years ago. Apart from the disputed land, which is about 0.313 acres, the rest can be returned to the owners.
The government's petition comes on a day that the Supreme Court was scheduled to hear the Ayodhya title suit case, though that is not to happen now owing to the non-availability of Justice Bobde due to medical reasons.
Speaking to Republic TV shortly after the newsbreak, BJP MP Dr Subramanian Swamy said that the petition was a move towards facilitating the construction of a Ram Mandir at the Ram Janmabhoomi site. Dr Swamy has over the last few months been imploring the government to hand over the land to the VHP to begin construction of the Ram Mandir, citing that the case being heard by the apex court is only about land and can be resolved by compensating the parties.
The latest delay in the Supreme Court's hearing of the matter sparked a renewed wave of calls for a Ram Mandir ordinance to be brought in by the government, though Union Law and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad did not provide any indications towards this when he spoke to reporters at some length about the topic. He did, however, put forth that the citizens of India want a Ram Mandir at the site and that it would be ideal if the Supreme Court resolved the matter at the earliest. He listed out other recent examples where proceedings were carried out and a verdict was delivered in a timely fashion, naming the Sabarimala verdict, the Adultery verdict and the dramatic over-night hearing over the controversial invitation given to BS Yeddyurappa to form a government in Karnataka following the assembly elections there earlier this year.
A five-judge CJI-led constitution bench of the Supreme Court was scheduled to have taken up the Ayodhya dispute starting January 10, but on that day, Justice UU Lalit recused himself from the case after senior counsel Rajeev Dhawan pointed out that he (Justice Lalit) had been a lawyer in a related case. PM Modi and Amit Shah have both reiterated that the Ram Mandir is a manifesto promise of the BJP-led government and they will make all efforts towards it, though only after the Supreme Court gives its verdict.