The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Storm after temple thunder

New Delhi, Aug. 2: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s statement yesterday that a temple would be built in Ayodhya has stunned many of the BJP’s allies as well as the Opposition, which is all set to stall Parliament on Monday.

The DMK and the Janata Dal (United) have expressed shock while the Telugu Desam has stressed the need to stick to the NDA agenda.

The DMK has asked Vajpayee to clear the “doubts” raised by his “contradictory” stand. Former Union minister and Dal(U) leader Devendra Prasad Yadav has alleged that he had deviated from the NDA agenda.

Before hundreds of mourners at Mahant Ramchandradas Paramhans’ funeral in Ayodhya yesterday, Vajpayee had said a “grand” temple would be built at Ram’s birthplace.

Desam sources said Naidu is miffed at the “avoidable” statement and has told politburo colleagues the party will not accept any deviation from the NDA agenda.

Accusing the Prime Minister of keeping Parliament in the dark, Yadav said if the government was changing its agenda to suit the BJP, the allies should have been taken into confidence.

Writing in party mouthpiece Murasoli, DMK chief M. Karunanidhi recalled Vajpayee’s statement to Parliament in March 2002 that the NDA government would not allow any construction at the disputed site till the Supreme Court gave its verdict. He asked if there was any change in the NDA agenda.

For once, the Opposition was in agreement with the BJP’s allies. Congress spokesperson S. Jaipal Reddy said the Prime Minister and his deputy “had used a sad occasion of a sadhu’s funeral to make very controversial remarks. What is more, what they have said goes against the NDA agenda. It is utterly irresponsible on their part to use a sad occasion to make provocative statements”.

CPM leader Somnath Chatterjee and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav accused the BJP of playing politics over the death of Paramhans. Mulayam said in Lucknow the statement showed Vajpayee was “purely a leader of RSS”.

The CPM politburo also described Vajpayee’s statement as an “endorsement” of the RSS’ views and a complete negation of the letter and spirit of the Constitution.

“The Prime Minister has once again revealed the true colours of being an unadulterated RSS swayamsevak by pledging in Ayodhya that Ram temple will be built at Ram janmasthan (birth place),” it said.

The CPI joined the chorus, saying: “It is unheard of, a Prime Minister making a declaration at a funeral with regard to an issue which is pending before the court.”

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board condemned the statement, describing it as “unfortunate and uncalled for”.

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