Gujarat Assembly elections, scheduled to be held on December 9, 14, is critical one for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and incumbent Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi. The results will be out on December 18. The polls assume political significance as BJP is banking heavily on brand Modi to retain power in the PM’s home state. On the other hand, Rahul Gandhi, who is set to take over the charge of the Congress from his mother Sonia Gandhi, has been the party’s chief campaigner in Gujarat. When the campaign for the assembly elections began, a few topics heated up the political speeches. From Demonetisation, Goods and Services Tax (GST) to Congress aligning with Patidar quota leader Hardik Patel became hotly debated topics. However, things have changed since the Ayodhya hearing began in the Supreme Court. The hotly debated topic of Ayodhya has taken the centrestage and PM Modi, Amit Shah and Congress leaders have taken potshots at each other over this.
PM Modi yesterday castigated senior Congress leader and lawyer Kapil Sibal for seeking deferment of hearing of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute till after the 2019 general polls, and wondered if such an issue should be kept unresolved for political gains and losses. 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 Sibal, wanted resolution of the Ayodhya tangle. pm Modi said that he would congratulate Sunni Waqf Board for saying that Sibal’s argument in court was wrong and it wants speedy resolution of the issue. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Sunni Waqf Board, had said in the Supreme Court on Tuesday that the appeals in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case be heard in July 2019 after the completion of the next Lok Sabha polls as the atmosphere at present was not conducive for the proceedings.
On the campaign trail in Gujarat, Modi recalled how his government decided to oppose ‘triple talaq’ in the Supreme Court risking a possible backlash in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. He also made a pitch for simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies. “Yesterday, Sibal advocated the cause of the Muslim community. He has the right to do it and we do not have any problem with it. You can present your argument quoting all facts and laws to save Babri Masjid. “But you dare say that the case should not be heard till 2019 elections. You want to stop the hearing of Ram temple (issue) in the name of elections,” Modi told a well-attended election rally at Dhandhuka in Ahmedabad district.
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Major Muslim bodies have also spoken in conflicting voices on the Ayodhya title suit with the UP Sunni Waqf Board against deferment of the hearing in the apex court till after the 2019 general elections and the AIMPLB saying the time was not right for the arguments to take place. “The board is of the view that hearing in the case be held and the matter be disposed of promptly… I do not know on whose behalf the counsel for the Muslims appearing in the apex court, Kapil Sibal had stated this… No such directive had been given by the board,” Chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Waqf Board Zafar Farooqui said. “Apparently, Sibal had appeared on behalf of one of the appellants in the Ayodhya case Hasim Ansari’s son Iqbal Ansari… There was no directive from the board. We want that the case is solved at the earliest,” he stressed.