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Big Two at one on Ayodhya, says BJP

Raipur, June 29 (PTI): The BJP today said there were no differences between the Prime Minister and his deputy over Ayodhya and rejected a Vishwa Hindu Parishad demand that they resign if they fail to enact a law for the construction of a Ram temple.

The party said the temple was never on the NDA’s agenda.

“Whatever is happening is under the leadership of Atalji. What Advaniji wants is exactly what Atalji wants. There is no difference of opinion between the two on Ayodhya,” party general secretary Pramod Mahajan said.

The BJP leader added that no one could create a divide between the two leaders.

Referring to the VHP demand for a central law, Mahajan said: “The 1999 parliamentary elections were fought on the NDA agenda, which did not talk about a legislation for the settlement of the Ayodhya dispute. Hence, there is no question of Vajpayee or Advani resigning or seeking a fresh mandate.”

The general secretary’s response came a day after VHP leader Ashok Singhal said Advani should resign if Vajpayee did not allow him to bring in a law for constructing the temple.

Mahajan also denied that the PMO was trying to strike a temple deal, an allegation made by the VHP.

The BJP leader said the Centre did not have any proposal to provide reservations to Muslims or allow them to pray at any mosque under the Archaeological Survey of India.

Though the BJP was in favour of legislation, it was not possible to take such a step as it was part of a coalition whose common minimum programme was silent on the temple issue, Mahajan added.

Asked about Singhal’s statement that many NDA partners wanted legislation, Mahajan said if Samata Party leader George Fernandes and Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee favoured such a law, “they should declare it publicly and not through the VHP”.

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