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Advani deputy puts temple first

New Delhi, June 1: Swami Chinmayanand, the new minister of state for home, said political consensus, and not legislation, was the only solution to the Ayodhya dispute.

“Political initiative leading to a consensus among the parties is the only solution. How long can you take shelter behind the court to protect your fundamental right'” said Chinmayanand, who was a member of the high-powered Kendriya Margdarshak Mandal of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Ramjanmabhoomi Mukti Yagna Samiti.

Such a consensus, he said, would help both Hindus and Muslims equally.

Chinmayanand, who was entrusted by the VHP with soliciting the support of parties for a legislation facilitating the construction of the Ram temple, sounded sceptical about the proposal.

But he said he wrote to Congress president Sonia Gandhi in this regard. He learnt later that senior Congress MPs Arjun Singh and S. Jaipal Reddy were directed to respond on her behalf.

“But then the Uttar Pradesh elections came and the Ayodhya tension stalled the prospect of talks. Every time we seem to come closer to a legislative solution, we hit a roadblock,” the minister said.

“When V.P. Singh was the Prime Minister, he brought an Ordinance and was forced to withdraw it at midnight. When Chandra Shekhar was the PM, the talks progressed well and a solution was in sight when mysteriously some Haryana constables were found outside Rajiv Gandhi’s house. The Congress pulled out support to his government and that was the end.”

Asked about his type of consensus, Chinmayanand said it would be for a temple at the site where the Babri mosque stood.

“This is the first task which has to be accomplished. A temple must be built and then we can think of a mosque,” he said. “The two should not be inter-related and Muslims must not be told that if you agree to give us the land, we will build a mosque somewhere close by. There should be no pre-condition.”

If the mosque was to be rebuilt, he said the “ideal” site could be at Shahnava, a village 4 km from Ayodhya which housed the “mazar (tomb)” of Mir Baqi, Babur’s general.

According to the VHP, Baqi had demolished a Ram temple to build the mosque.

Chinmayanand was quick to clarify that these were his views, not necessarily that of the National Democratic Alliance government.

His brief does not include Ayodhya, which is being looked after by a separate cell attached to the Prime Minister’s Office.

BJP sources, however, emphasised that Chinmayanand would be part of any future government effort to find a solution as he was an integral part of the VHP.

The BJP’s claim of not making “Hindutva” an Assembly poll plank notwithstanding, the issue has cropped up in a big way again.

The party’s Uttar Pradesh chief, Vinay Katiyar, talked about it during his statewide yatra, which was flagged off on Saturday. He claimed all the “archaeological evidence” unearthed from the “disputed” site established the existence of an ancient temple.

BJP chief M. Venkaiah Naidu was quoted as saying on May 28 at a party rally in Rampur in western Uttar Pradesh that he wanted to see a mosque built next to the proposed temple.

Though he denied the remarks the next day, the sources said considerable “damage” was already done.

A senior Cabinet minister had asked: “Does it do it (BJP) any good to keep shifting the stand on an issue as important as this'”

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