NEW DELHI: Several BJP leaders made a fresh pitch for construction of a Ram temple, while Left parties and the TMC called for upholding the country's secular fabric on the 26th anniversary of the Babri mosque demolition on Thursday, even as the day passed off peacefully in Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress, which is making a determined bid to highlight its pro-Hindu credentials, maintained a studied silence on the matter.
Union minister Uma Bharti, a leading figure of the Ram Mandir movement, "appealed" to Congress president Rahul Gandhi to support the construction of the temple to "honour" his holy thread and Dattatreya Brahmin lineage.
She was referring to the claims of Congress leaders that Gandhi was a "janeu-dhari" (sacred thread-wearing) Hindu. Recently, at a religious ceremony, the Congress president was referred to as a Dattatreya Brahmin.
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, a bitter critic of the BJP, tweeted: "Just like a human body is incomplete without all organs, India is incomplete without all communities, religions, castes, creed and gender. Let us pledge to uphold the secular fabric of India (sic)."
Left parties took out a march in the national capital with CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury accusing the ruling BJP and the RSS of working to "destroy" the country's secular fabric.
CPI national general secretary D Raja alleged that the RSS, VHP and other affiliates of the Sangh Parivar were bent on "changing the secular character" of the country.
In Haryana, state minister Anil Vij claimed Mughal emperor Babar "demolished" the Ram temple and built a mosque in Ayodhya on the basis of the power he wielded and now "Ram bhakts will have to remove the blot".
The Babri Mosque demolition anniversary passed off peacefully in Uttar Pradesh with Hindu and Muslim organisations observing the day as "shaurya diwas" and "black day" respectively.
While the VHP and Bajrang Dal burst crackers and resolved to build a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya, Muslim outfits held protests to express grief over the incident.
In Ayodhya, seers offered prayers and sought divine intervention for early construction of the Ram temple. Mahant Suresh Das of Digambar Akhara said Ram temple is the biggest issue confronting the country.
Muslim organisations observed the day as 'Yaum-e-Gham' (day of sorrow) and staged a protest in Lucknow, Convenor of Babri Masjid Action Committee Zafaryab Jilani said.
The main litigant in the Ayodhya case, Iqbal Ansari, said: “We are observing the anniversary for the last 26 years. Now, it (the wait) must end and a peaceful solution must be found with the efforts of the prime minister."
Another litigant, Haji Mahboob, said, “We are ready for talks over the Ayodhya dispute, but before that, the anarchy of saffron forces must be controlled.”
A member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Khalid Rashid Firangimahli, handed over a memorandum to the District Magistrate of Lucknow addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on behalf of the board demanding justice in the case.
In Gorakhpur, the 'prant sanyojak' of the Bajrang Dal, Purnendu, said: "We can't have any more patience and the government should pass a law in Parliament for the construction of Ram temple."
The Gorakhpur unit of the AIMIM observed the day as 'black day' with a banner carrying the picture of party MP from Hyderabad Asaduddin Owaisi, Bheem Rao Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh, and staged a sit-in at the district magistrate's office and gave a memorandum addressed to President Ram Nath Kovind.
The state home department said the day passed off peacefully with no incident being reported from anywhere.
Elaborate security arrangements had been made for the day in view of plans of both Hindu and Muslim organisations to organise special programmes on the anniversary.
Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said the BJP accorded the highest priority to an agreement between the warring parties for building a Ram temple in Ayodhya.
"The BJP is in favour of Ram temple's construction either by a judgement of the Supreme Court or through mutual agreement (among parties). And if both the options are exhausted, then the legislative route must be explored. The BJP accords highest priority to an agreement for paving the way for construction of the temple," Maurya said.
UP MLA Sangeet Som, known for making controversial statements, said the temple will be constructed before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and called for unity among Hindus.