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Singhal wags poll boycott finger

Lucknow, June 19: In a veiled warning to the BJP, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad today said it would boycott leaders opposed to the construction of a Ram temple in the general election next year.

“It is a warning to leaders that they either favour construction of the Ram temple or the VHP would ensure they do not win Parliament elections in future,” VHP leader Ashok Singhal said at a news conference.

Pro-temple leaders should quit the National Democratic Alliance and help the VHP in the construction, he said. “The NDA government is pursuing a policy of Muslim appeasement in the name of secularism.”

Refusing to come out clearly on the VHP’s support, or otherwise, to the BJP in the general election, Singhal said: “It (the BJP) must assert that the Ram temple remains its main agenda. Otherwise, no one would be able to save it from certain doom.”

Asked about his relations with “soulmate” Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he said: “The day Vajpayee opposed construction of the Ram temple, he ceased to be my friend.”

The VHP also echoed the Central Sunni Waqf Board in accusing the Archaeological Survey of India of “selectivity”. Singhal said the survey’s latest progress report, claiming no structural evidence of a temple was found during excavations beneath the makeshift temple in Ayodhya, was an “attempt to mislead the country”.

Earlier, the Waqf board had accused the survey of “manufacturing” pillar bases to bolster the case of temple votaries.

Singhal dismissed the latest initiative of Kanchi Sankar-acharya Swami Jayendra Saraswati to broker a solution to the dispute. He claimed the seer, the Centre’s unofficial mediator with Muslim leaders, was kept in the dark about the government’s “bargain formula”.

“The Sankaracharya does not seem to be aware of the bargain formula, which includes 9 per cent reservation for minorities and the right to pray in thousands of mosques under the ASI,” Singhal said.

“The Hindus, in turn, were asked to give up their claim to Mathura and Kashi shrines if the Muslims gave up their claim to the disputed Ayodhya site.”

Alleging the Sankaracharya failed to take the majority of Hindus into confidence before making a proposal to the Muslims, Singhal said: “Such a move, at the behest of the NDA government, is meant to divert people’s attention and to ignore the saints who have sacrificed for the Ayodhya movement in the past.”

The Sankaracharya, he claimed, was being “misused” by the Centre.

Singhal asserted that no negotiation could be conceived without the VHP. “Who will accept a solution worked out between the seer and the AIMPLB (All-India Muslim Personal Law Board) when the main players have been kept out of the process'” he asked.

Singhal accused newspapers that carried articles on the survey report of being on Pakistan’s payroll.

The survey report, he said, mentioned the details of only 10 trenches, while “the contents of the remaining 62 trenches were not submitted”.

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