The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Temple talk at Raipur table

New Delhi, July 15: The VHP-BJP spat on Ayodhya has cast its shadow on the party’s national executive which will be held in Raipur on July 19 and 20.

For the first time since the Vajpayee government came to power, the 150-odd BJP national executive members will discuss the Ram temple issue even as the official stand remains that the government is committed to the national agenda of governance of the coalition.

Sources said the party may not go in for a separate manifesto for the next Lok Sabha polls which essentially means that to keep the coalition intact, Ayodhya may be put on the backburner.

Speaking about the national executive, BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said: “All aspects of Ayodhya will be discussed, all issues are open and what comes out of these discussions will be placed before you.”

However, after the divergent statements emanating from the RSS and the government — Sangh joint general secretary Madan Das Devi had said on Saturday that the BJP had agreed to “sympathetically” consider the VHP’s demand for a central law on Ayodhya and deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani ruled it out the next day — Naqvi seemed unwilling to respond.

Asked specifically if the executive would discuss the Ayodhya legislation, the spokesperson said: “When I said all aspects, I presume you understand that this one, too, will figure in the discussions.”

Will the executive pass a separate resolution on Ayodhya' Naqvi replied: “We will decide what to do after the discussions.” The spokesperson was as ambivalent when he was quizzed on whether the Palampur resolution of 1989 would form the basis of the discussion on Ayodhya.

The historic resolution ruled out a judicial verdict on Ayodhya and stated the dispute could be resolved through negotiations or a central legislation. With Advani coming out against a law, party sources said the “closest” the BJP could come to retaining the spirit of Palampur was an assurance that if voted in only with a majority, it could bring one to facilitate temple construction.

RSS sources said all that they sought from the BJP was an acknowledgement that legislation was still an option. Sources said they disagreed with the VHP’s demand for the government’s resignation for “failing” to bring a legislation. They added that the government must continue.

They admitted that senior party functionaries — notably general secretary Pramod Mahajan — had expressed such a “sentiment” (for a law) at a BJP-Shiv Sena event on the same day on which Advani ruled out the possibility. But the sources insisted that even a token statement on a possible legislation could be made only after “weighing the pros and cons”. They said, given the reality that the BJP would have to go with its allies in the next elections, it would be “pragmatic” not to mention the Ayodhya legislation anywhere.

In the absence of a clear view on the subject, sources indicate that Ayodhya would take up a major portion of the discussion even if the resolution did not reflect this because “we have to give a firm line to the cadre and not confuse them more”.

Email This Page