The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Atal takes VHP bill by horns

New Delhi, July 8: The government today confronted the VHP on Ayodhya by ruling out a law to hand over land for a Ram temple.

The assertion came after several days of chest-thumping by the VHP to the accompaniment of shrill cries for a central law. It demanded Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s resignation for failure to enact the law.

VHP vice-president Acharya Giriraj Kishore kept up the chorus today, renewing the call for the Prime Minister’s scalp if the legislation was not tabled in the monsoon session.

Soon after Kishore’s demand, Vajpayee, senior colleagues L.K. Advani and Jaswant Singh and party chief M. Venkaiah Naidu went into a huddle at the Prime Minister’s residence.

Naidu emerged after the two-hour meeting to say there was “no question” of Vajpayee stepping down or enacting a central law because the BJP did not have the requisite majority in Parliament. ( )

Kishore had already dismissed such an argument as “nonsense”. “We will no longer wait for the BJP to say if you support us in this election, we will facilitate worship in the temple,” he told reporters here. “After the next election, we will erect a barricade and after the next, next election, we will illuminate the place. All we want is a grand temple on the very same site.”

He pointed out that if the National Democratic Alliance government could get the anti-terror act passed by holding a joint session, it could do the same for an Ayodhya law.

The VHP’s Uttar Pradesh convener and spokesperson, Veereshwar Dwivedi, threatened to work for the BJP’s defeat in its strongholds.

He said he had started identifying committed Hindutva voters in areas where the BJP is strong and explaining to them that no “real” difference existed between the BJP and the Opposition. The subtext was they could feel free to vote whom they wanted.

Dwivedi said Vajpayee’s Lucknow constituency — which, he claimed, had 50,000 dedicated Hindutva votaries — was high on the VHP’s target.

In Ayodhya, VHP working president Ashok Singhal warned of a mass movement against all parties that are opposed to a central law and prefer waiting for the court’s verdict.

“Sonia Gandhi, the Samajwadi Party, other parties and those belonging to the NDA should decide not to issue the whip in pursuit of their party policies and allow MPs to vote freely according to their conscience,” he told reporters.

“But in case a whip is issued, the VHP would have no other option but to launch a mass movement against the parties which oppose the construction of a temple.”

Like Kishore, Singhal said if Vajpayee could not get a law enacted, he should quit.

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