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Sangh attack on Vajpayee raises allies’ hackles

New Delhi, Oct. 22: The Sangh parivar’s veiled attack on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and pressure to return to the Hindutva agenda to boost the BJP tally in Parliament and win elections in 10 states have raised the hackles of NDA allies.

Some of them suspect that Sangh leaders are working on a script to make Vajpayee to toe the Hindutva line or force a mid-term poll.

Reacting to reports that hardliners within the Sangh, the VHP and the BJP want Vajpayee to get Parliament’s nod to acquire the disputed land at Ayodhya to build the Ram temple, the allies said they would oppose the move. Janata Dal (United) spokesperson K.C. Tyagi said: “Our stand on the temple dispute is very clear. Either accept the Supreme Court verdict or obtain a consensus between Hindu and Muslim leaders.”

Tyagi took strong objection to VHP leader Ashok Singhal’s comments against the PMO and principal secretary to the Prime Minister Brajesh Mishra — considered an indirect attack on Vajpayee — and Narendra Modi’s jibes at the Election Commission. “These utterances and (the) whisper campaign are against the spirit of the Constitution.”

The Telugu Desam Party made it clear that it would not allow the hardliners in the BJP to run roughshod over the wishes of the allies. Senior party leader and Rajya Sabha member C. Ramachandraiah said: “The Prime Minister on the floor of Parliament had said the Ayodhya dispute could be solved either through court verdict or consensus. We will not let them deviate from the NDA agenda.”

The Indian National Lok Dal reposed faith in the Prime Minister and felt he was in control. A leader close to Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala said: “We are watching the situation. We feel as of now, there is nothing to worry about. (The) Prime Minister’s health is okay. He is commanding very well.”

Alliance leaders said it appears that BJP and Sangh leaders have realised that the Vajpayee government has not achieved anything to boast of and to win elections, they have to resurrect Hindutva issues like the Ram temple. “The BJP’s tally in the Lok Sabha has been hovering between 160 and 182 for the last few years. It feels that only by hardselling the Hindutva agenda and dividing and weakening the Opposition, it could increase its number of seats in the lower House,” said an NDA leader.

Since the government has a majority in the Lok Sabha, it could bring a legislation to acquire the disputed land. Since it is not a constitutional amendment, it need not wait for the approval of the Rajya Sabha, where the ruling coalition does not have a majority.

“If the allies back the legislation, well and good, and they become part of the extended (Sangh) parivar at their own peril. If not, the BSP and the ADMK are always there to support the government in case of any danger,” he added, explaining the hardliners’ line of thought.

A Cabinet minister said whether it is the BJP in power or the Congress, the Ram temple issue has to be solved. “It is an irritant between the government and the RSS…. We have an obligation to resolve the dispute within two parameters: court intervention or political consensus.”

Discounting talk of acquisition of the disputed land, he said the Supreme Court has made it clear that the disputed land cannot be touched till the Ayodhya title suite is disposed of. The government could at most acquire the 67 acres adjoining the disputed land, he said. For that too, “some kind of a judicial verdict or political consensus has to be worked out”, he added.

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