A senior leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on Friday said the Supreme Court’s decision to defer the hearing of the Ayodhya land dispute case on the grounds that it was not a priority had insulted Hindu sentiments, PTI reported.

A bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph last week ordered that the matter be listed for hearing in January. The bench said it had its “own priorities”.

It is painful to see that an issue that Hindus consider important is not on the court’s priority list, said RSS General Secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi. “Hindus are feeling insulted,” he said in Thane at the end of a three-day national executive body meeting of the organisation.

“Since the matter was listed on October 29, we felt Hindus would get good news before Diwali,” he said. “But the Supreme Court refused to hear the matter and deferred the hearing. The court also said their priorities were different, when asked when the verdict would come.”

Joshi said the RSS “will not hesitate to launch an agitation for Ram temple, if needed, but since the matter is in the Supreme Court, there are restrictions”. He said the court was taking “too long” to decide on the matter, and a legal sanction was needed to pave the way for the temple’s construction.

The RSS has asked the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre to bring in a legislation to ensure the construction of the Ram temple. But it will not exert pressure on the government, Joshi said. “We are not putting pressure, but we will build consensus,” he added. “We respect the law and the Constitution, which is why there has been delay.”

Union minister and BJP leader Vijay Goel also backed the demand to construct the temple at the earliest, PTI reported. The minister of state for parliamentary affairs, said a campaign called “Ek diya Ram ke naam” would be launched on Saturday.

“It is a wish of crores of people that Ram temple should be constructed,” he told the news agency in New Delhi on Friday. “The temple should be built at the earliest through any way, be it constitutional or legislation or court or through dialogue between all the parties. The temple should be constructed.”

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has said it will step up efforts to push through such a legislation if the government fails to act.

Bring down the government if agitation is needed: Shiv Sena

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Friday said the RSS should bring down the Narendra Modi government if it felt the need to launch an agitation for the construction of the Ram temple despite having a strong government at the Centre, PTI reported.

“The issue of Ram temple was sidelined after the Modi government assumed office,” the Sena chief told reporters at the party headquarters in Mumbai. “When the Sena took up the issue and decided to insist on the construction of the temple, the RSS now feels a need for agitation to press the demand.”

Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party leader Om Prakash Rajbhar, a BJP ally and member of the Adityanath cabinet in Uttar Pradesh, termed the Ram temple debate an “election drama” that is played out every time elections approach. “Whenever the elections are near, the issue of Ram temple crops up,” he told reporters at an event in Sambhal district. “When there are no elections, no one remembers Lord Ram... this is election drama.”

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi said the Supreme Court cannot take decisions on the basis of the sentiments of Hindutva activists. “He is still in denial that there is something called the Constitution of India,” Owaisi said, referring to Bhaiyyaji Joshi. “Aastha [Faith], bhavna [sentiments] etc aren’t relevant, only insaaf [justice] is.”