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Advani keeps out law-for-temple vow

New Delhi, April 3: The BJP manifesto has avoided promising a legislation to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya, with L.K. Advani resisting pressure from within the party and the parivar to include such a commitment.

Sources said the BJP’s candidate for Prime Minister did not want any controversy that could annoy the allies and shift the focus from the agenda of good governance.

The manifesto says: “There is an overwhelming desire of the people in India and abroad to have a grand temple at the birthplace of Sri Ram in Ayodhya. The BJP will explore all possibilities, including negotiations and judicial proceedings, to facilitate the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.”

It leaves out the third option of legislation, which most parivar leaders preferred.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Pravin Togadia had recently declared that his workers would vote for whichever party promised legislation to build the temple. Any talk of consensus, he said, was meaningless and relying on the courts was futile. He had asked the media to wait for the BJP manifesto.

Sources said even the manifesto committee chairman, Murli Manohar Joshi, and party president Rajnath Singh had sought to include this promise.

A leader closely associated with the drafting of the manifesto, however, said: “What is this noise about the Ram temple? We clearly wanted the focus on good governance. Our position is grounded in reality: we know the BJP will not get a simple majority on its own and so cannot bring such legislation.”

The leader added: “The manifesto is based on what is doable and what is not. Individuals may have suggested something but the final product is what matters and there we have not talked of legislation.”

At the manifesto release, Advani said the allies had no problem if a temple were built after an agreement between the two communities or a favourable court verdict.

Advani understands that his party would need support from many “secular” groups to form a government and, therefore, hawkish posturing on issues like the temple did not make political sense.

For the same reason, the manifesto avoids harping on “Muslim appeasement”, the Amarnath agitation and the UPA government’s “anti-Hindu” mindset.

It mentions the other two pet issues, Article 370 and a uniform civil code, but in a diluted form. It only promises a commission to draft a uniform civil code, drawing on the best global traditions and harmonising them with the modern times.

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