With the Shia community veering increasingly towards the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh sees this as a “golden opportunity” to make inroads into the Muslim community. The Shia community has not only supported the ban on triple talaq, even before the Supreme Court gave its ruling, but has also announced its support for Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya.

The Shia Central Waqf Board, which has been supporting the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, has now launched a new campaign called “Haq Se Aao, Mandir Banao”. The campaign supports the construction of the temple at the disputed site and the construction of a mosque at another site located at a distance from the temple site.

The Shia Central Waqf Board chairman, Waseem Rizvi recently met different monks and RSS leaders in Ayodhya and discussed the issue with them. Rizvi said, “With our Hindu brothers, we want to facilitate the construction of a Ram temple at the site. The mosque should be constructed at a distance so that there is no possibility of a dispute in the future.” He further suggested that the new mosque should not be called the Babri mosque but should be named as Masjid-e-Aman (Mosque of Peace). “We do not want the new mosque to be named after any invader. The mosque should be a symbol of peace and not war,” he said.

Rizvi has met Mahant Suresh Das, who has succeeded Mahant Ramchandra Paramhans as the head of the Digambar Akhara, one of the litigants in the Ayodhya case.

Mahant Suresh Das said, “This is a welcome move and if it materialises, it will write a new chapter in Hindu-Muslim relationship. A new bond will develop between the two communities, which will strengthen the country.”

The Muslim Rashtriya Manch, an affiliate of the RSS, has played a key role in forging the new relationship between Shias and Hindus on the Ayodhya issue. But the Sunni Central Waqf Board, which is also a party to the Ayodhya case, is vehemently opposed to an out-of-court settlement. The Board is also unwilling to give up its claim on the site where the Babri mosque stood.

“The case has gone too far and this is just a publicity gimmick. It is too late for an out-of-court settlement and we will continue to fight for our claim in the Supreme Court,” said Zafaryab Jilani, senior lawyer of the Sunni Central Waqf Board and convener of the All India Babri Masjid Action Committee

Manch convener Mahiradhwaj said that a good beginning had been made and the path for a dialogue on the issue had been cleared. He said that he welcomed the initiative of the Shia community on this issue.

A senior Sangh functionary said, “For us, this is a golden opportunity to make ourselves acceptable to the Muslims and shake off the image of being anti-Muslim. The Shia community has been supporting us on contentious issues and we welcome the move with open arms.”

UP minister Mohsin Raza, who is the BJP’s lone Muslim face in UP, recently pre-empted any possible opposition to the Yogi Adityanath government’s move to make registration of marriages compulsory, by getting his own 16-year-old marriage registered in Lucknow. Raza has been very vocal is showing his community’s support to the BJP.

With former Samajwadi Party MLC Bhukkal Nawab joining the BJP, the party’s acceptability among the Shias has increased and the BJP wants to keep the trend going.

Of late the Shia community has not only been supportive of the BJP government but has even spoken against “secular forces”.

Maulana Yasoob Abbas, spokesperson for the All India Shia Personal Law Board, said, “The Shia community will continue to support the BJP if it ensures better education and job opportunities for Muslim women.”

Shaista Amber, president of the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board, who had been fighting against triple talaq since two decades, said, “We are glad that the government has risen above vote bank politics to support the ban on triple talaq. Some conservative Muslims may not accept it, but the majority is thankful to the BJP for its support.”

The Shia Central Waqf Board has already given a petition in the Supreme Court, asking to be made a party in the Ayodhya case, and legal experts feel that if the Shia Board petition is accepted by the apex court, it would automatically weaken the case of the Sunni Central Waqf Board, which is insisting on building the mosque at the same spot where it was demolished.