The Delhi Assembly on Thursday tabled a resolution demanding an ordinance by the Centre to allot land for rebuilding the demolished Saint Ravidas temple in the national capital.
During the discussion, while the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislators blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Centre for the demolition, the BJP legislators supported the resolution.
Vishesh Ravi (AAP) tabled the resolution saying the House shares the sentiment of millions of Indians who were “deeply hurt because of the demolition of Saint Ravldas temple in Delhi”.
Calling the temple ‘historically significant’, as Saint Ravidas had visited the site and lived there for some time, the resolution said the demolition not only crushed “the religious sentiments, but also the history of Dalit struggle”.
“This House resolves that the central government mishandled the issue by not supporting their cause in the court of law, which finally led to its unjustified and unfortunate demolition,” the resolution read.
The House resolved to convey the sentiments of millions to the central government and “demand that the Centre must immediately bring an ordinance to allot the land for Ravidas temple”.
The Assembly also resolved that the Delhi government should construct a magnificent Ravidas temple at the site after allocation of land by the Centre.
A temple of Saint Ravidas was demolished in forest area of south Delhi’s Tughlakabad on August 10 after a Supreme Court order.
During the discussion, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said his government was ready to exchange 100 acres of land with the central government if DDA agreed to hand over four acres to Saint Ravidas committee for temple reconstruction.
“It’s about the faith and sentiments of about 15 crore people. The Centre should consider giving the land for the temple. It’s being said it was a forest land. In exchange of this four acres, I promise the Centre to give 100 acres so a bigger forest could be developed,” Kejriwal said in the House.
He also requested people from doing politics over the issue.
Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam said the BJP had double standards on temple.
Blaming the BJP for demolition of the temple, he said while on one hand, “the BJP is fighting to build a temple on the basis of faith, on the other it has demolished a temple that has all the documented proof of its existence.”
Gautam also shared the documents related to the temple. “Your faith is a proof for a (Ram) temple, but even after having documents, our existing temple was demolished,” Gautam said.
He also said it was incorrect to say the temple was built after felling tress as it was centuries old. “The demolition is to crush our faith. The cruelty on people of our community has increased since the BJP came to power (at the Centre),” Gautam said listing some incidents, including that of Rohith Vemula and Payal Tadvi.
If Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri wanted, “the temple could have been saved”, he said.
The BJP legislators supported the cause saying saints didn’t belong to one community, but to all. “BJP supports the resolution. A temple should be built at that spot. We should not do petty politics over the issue. I, as a BJP worker, ensure that we will do whatever we can in out capacity,” O.P. Sharma (BJP) said in the House.
Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta said if the Delhi government removed the temple land from the forest category, the BJP government would make a grand Ravidas memorial.
Gupta said it was in 1980 that the Delhi government announced that it was a forest land. “The Delhi government should take initiative and the BJP government will discharge its responsibility of constructing grand memorial to the great saint,” Gupta said.
Earlier, the House witnessed a ruckus after AAP legislators approached the Speaker’s podium shouting slogans against the BJP for demolition of the temple forcing him to adjourn the Assembly twice.