The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP holds back Babri booklet

New Delhi, Sept. 12: With the designated Rae Bareli court putting off its verdict on framing charges against L.K. Advani and others in the Babri Masjid demolition case to September 19, the BJP has deferred the release of a booklet on Ayodhya, which is essentially a compilation of articles pleading the deputy Prime Minister’s innocence.

The official reason given was that the printed product was not up to the mark.

“We sought changes in the cover page and other places,” said BJP spokesman Prakash Jawdekar.

But sources said the release was meant to coincide with the Rae Bareli court’s judgment which was expected today and which, they added, was “certain to be positive for us”.

“It was a way of celebrating the event,” a source said, adding that the decision to name the booklet The Witnesses of Ayodhya was taken at a meeting in the capital of the party’s Chhattisgarh unit two days ago.

The four articles in the booklet — two by Advani himself and one each by journalists Swapan Dasgupta and Chandan Mitra — have been put together as a “statement” of the deputy Prime Minister’s “innocence”.

BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu during a press briefing denied knowledge of the booklet until it was pointed out that Jawdekar — who sat next to him — had shared the details with the press.

The booklet might now be released on September 19, “depending on the court’s verdict” of which, sources said, they were no “longer sure”.

“We were unprepared for the Supreme Court’s harsh indictment of the Narendra Modi government. These days, politicians are sitting ducks for the judiciary.”

Two days before the high-powered steering committee of the VHP, the Kendriya Marg Darshak Mandal, is scheduled to meet in the capital to chalk out the next phase of the Ayodhya “agitation”, the RSS sought to give the impression that it would restrain its militant progeny from getting overly aggressive on the temple front.

“The VHP’s agitation would be peaceful and constitutional and it will have the RSS’ support,” said RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav.

Contending that the RSS was “not dictating terms to the VHP”, the spokesperson said the next agitation would not be a throwback to 1990-91 when the organisation first tried to breach the Babri mosque after attracting a huge crowd in Ayodhya.

Asked whether the crowning of Mulayam Singh Yadav as Uttar Pradesh chief minister would be red rag to the VHP as it was in the ’90s, the RSS leader said: “There is a big difference between 1991 and 2004 and we hope everyone has taken lessons from history.”

He maintained that a “legislative solution” was still the best option for the Ayodhya tangle. But in a bid to sound soft on the BJP and the government and belie the notion that the Sangh was pressuring both, Madhav repeatedly said it was not “the responsibility of any one party” to take the initiative to form and pass a law that would hand over the land to the VHP trust.

“Just as an effort was made to evolve a consensus in the political establishment to pass the women’s bill, so, too, all parties must sit together and decide on a law for Ayodhya,” Madhav said.

He refused to commit himself on the fact that to pass a law, it was the government of the day that would have to take the first step.

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