| Advani at an event to honour outstanding parliamentarians. (Below) Singh at a Planning Commission meet. (PTI and AFP)
New Delhi, Sept. 13: The Centre’s decision to withdraw the Ram Setu affidavit is not enough, the BJP said today, threatening a nationwide agitation if its demands were not met.
The party demanded apologies from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, besides a committee that will fix responsibility for the lapse and take steps to protect the setu.
Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani said the matter will be discussed at the BJP’s September 21-23 national executive in Bhopal. He refused to believe the affidavit was a mistake and said it exposed the “true mental orientation” of the government.
Advani brushed aside reports that suggested Sonia was upset with the mistake. He argued that it was the Congress’s “deceptive trick” to shield her from the Centre’s misdeeds.
The former BJP chief said withdrawing the affidavit should lead to the logical conclusion that the setu has to be protected, and repeated his party’s stand that the Sethusamudram project — the dredging plan seen as a threat to the setu (the partly submerged Adam’s Bridge) — has to be reworked.
Ram is said to have built the setu with the help of the vanarsena on his way to Lanka to rescue Sita.
Advani said pseudo-secularists don’t understand that a “secular” state doesn’t mean an “irreligious” state and asked if such an affidavit, which has hurt Hindu sentiments, could be filed about any other religion.
He was speaking after an emergency meeting of BJP office-bearers to discuss the situation arising out of the affidavit.
The meeting was held at the instance of BJP chief Rajnath Singh, who is on a tour of the Northeast.
Advani consulted NDA allies and spoke to ADMK leader Jayalalithaa, who has supported the BJP’s stand.
The former BJP chief said the Congress leadership and the government had “poured contempt” on the religious sentiment of Hindus all over the world by filing the affidavit.
“It is blasphemy and arrogance at worst, and insensitivity and recklessness at best, for a government claiming to be secular to trash the deepest and noblest sensibilities of the Hindus. In one stroke of its legal pen, the government has sought to negate all that the Hindus consider sacred in their faith,” Advani said.
The BJP leader, whose rath yatra on the Ramjanmabhoomi issue had whipped up passions, said the Ramayan, along with the Mahabharat, has been considered the bedrock of India’s national culture and identity by people like Mahatma Gandhi, Lokmanya Tilak, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel.
“By describing it as pure myth and a work of fiction, the government has wounded the very idea of India and sought to rewrite the civilisational identity of our ancient nation.”
Advani argued that not even during the Ayodhya movement had anyone in the government taken such a stand in the name of secularism.
“It is true that some people who were opposed to the construction of the Ram temple at Ramjanmabhoomi did ask: ‘How can you prove that Ram was born here'’ But none questioned the very existence of Lord Ram,” he said.