Ram Mandir in BJP Manifesto: An Unfulfilled Promise Since 1996
The promise of ‘Mandir Wahin Banayenge’ has almost always found a place in all of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s election manifestos since the last 23 years.
The promise of ‘Mandir Wahin Banayenge’ has almost always found a place in all of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s election manifestos since the last 23 years.(Photo: Arnica Kala/The Quint)

Ram Mandir in BJP Manifesto: An Unfulfilled Promise Since 1996

The promise of ‘Mandir Wahin Banayenge’ has almost always found a place in all of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s election manifestos for the last 23 years.

The battle cry for a Ram temple in Ayodhya rose the loudest in 1992 when Babri Masjid was demolished under LK Advani’s watch, propelling the saffron party to electoral success.

Since then, with the exception of 1999, the construction of a ‘Ram Mandir’ in Ram janmabhoomi has been a consistent promise of the BJP, albeit its priority has reduced from being a core agenda to now a cosmetic mention.

In light of the 2019 Lok Sabha BJP manifesto or what they now call ‘Sankalp Patra’ being released on Monday, 8 April, here’s a look at the journey of the ‘Ram Mandir’ promise through the years.

1996:

The BJP, for the first time, promised to construct a “magnificent Shri Ram Mandir at Janmasthan in Ayodhya” and prioritised the issue on Page 12 of its manifesto.

Promise: The manifesto read, “On coming to power, the BJP Government will facilitate the construction of a magnificent Shri Ram Mandir at Janmasthan in Ayodhya which will be a tribute to Bharat Mata. This dream moves millions of people in our land; the concept of Rama lies at the core of their consciousness.”

Lok Sabha Election Result:

Neither the BJP nor the Congress could secure a majority, resulting in a hung Parliament. The BJP led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee had secured the single largest majority and went on to form the government, which lasted for only 13 days. The 11th Lok Sabha saw three prime ministers in two years and the country went back to polls in 1998.

Also Read : Daily Dispatch: What Are the Big Takeaways from BJP’s Manifesto?

1998:

Once again, the Ram Mandir issue found a mention in Page 8 of the BJP’s manifesto. It read, “The BJP is committed to facilitate the construction of a magnificent Shri Ram Mandir at Ram Janmasthan in Ayodhya where a makeshift temple already exists. Shri Ram lies at the core of Indian consciousness. The BJP will explore all consensual, legal and constitutional means to facilitate the construction of Shri Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.”

The manifesto also added, “The BJP is convinced that Hindutva has immense potentiality to re-energize this nation and strengthen and discipline it to undertake the arduous task of nation-building. This can and does trigger a higher level of patriotism that can transform the country to greater levels of efficiency and performance. It is with such integrative ideas in mind, the BJP joined the Ram Janmabhoomi movement for the construction of Shri Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.”

Lok Sabha Election Result:

The result of 1998 elections was also indecisive with no party or alliance being able to secure a strong majority. However, BJP’s Vajpayee regained the position of prime minister after getting support from 286 members out of 545. But this government, too, didn’t last long.

Also Read : Takeaways From BJP Manifesto & How It Differs From the Congress’

1999

There was a single NDA manifesto which surprisingly doesn’t have even one mention of the Ram Mandir issue.

Lok Sabha Election Result:

The Vajpayee-led government fell apart when he failed to win a confidence motion in the Lok Sabha by a single vote due to the withdrawal by AIADMK and BSP, plunging the country into another round of elections after the Kargil war. In 1999, Vajpayee came back to power and served a full five-year term till 2004.

2004:

In 2004, it was interesting to note the difference in tone on the Mandir issue in the NDA’s manifesto and the BJP’s vision document.

While the NDA’s manifesto spoke more about an “early and amicable resolution of the Ayodhya issue”, the BJP’s vision document, apart from talking about a dialogue, emphasised how the Ram Mandir is crucial for Hindu sentiments: “The BJP reaffirms its commitment to the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya. As Maryada Purushottam, Ram is an inspiring cultural symbol of India. His birthplace in Ayodhya is also associated with the religious sentiments of crores of Hindus. The BJP remains committed to its stand that the judiciary’s verdict in this matter should be accepted by all.”

Lok Sabha Election Result:

The BJP alone had secured 138 votes and the Congress had got 145 but the grand old party managed to stitch together an alliance with more than 335 seats and returned to power after a gap of eight years.

2009:

The temple issue being pushed to Page 48 of the manifesto was seen by a lot of political analysts as the BJP’s attempt to appease its allies. The manifesto read, “There is an overwhelming desire of the people in India and abroad to have a grand temple at the birth place of Sri Ram in Ayodhya. The BJP will explore all possibilities, including negotiations and judicial proceedings, to facilitate the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.”

Lok Sabha Election Result:

The UPA led by the Congress again came to power with the BJP’s seat share going down by 22 seats to 116.

2014

The BJP’s 2014 election promise of Ram temple was almost reduced to two lines of a cosmetic mention which read, “Ram Mandir: BJP reiterates its stand to explore all possibilities within the framework of the constitution to facilitate the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.”

Lok Sabha Election Result:

The BJP of the NDA led by Narendra Modi swept the 2014 Lok Sabha elections with 282 out of 543 seats.

2019:

The 2019 manifesto says almost the same thing as the 2014 one. It reads, “We reiterate our stand on Ram Mandir. We will explore all possibilities within the framework of the Constitution and all necessary to facilitate the expeditious construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.”

The Mandir theme rose suddenly in shrillness a few months ago, with the RSS and the VHP holding rallies across Uttar Pradesh and Delhi demanding construction of the Ram temple. The leaders of both organisations expressed displeasure at the Modi government not being able to fulfill its Ram Mandir promise.

(The Quint is now available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

Follow our Elections section for more stories.

    Also Watch