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The Ayodhya dilemma
Moderation or back to basics, wonders BJP

New Delhi, Nov. 24: As if the 1,000-page indictment wasn’t enough, the Liberhan commission has put the BJP in a fix.

The question troubling the party now is what to do on Ayodhya — choose the path of “moderation” or “go back to the basics”?

A senior strategist explained the dilemma. “In election after election in Uttar Pradesh, the temple card’s utility declined. In fact, any attempt to polarise Hindus and Muslims failed...” the MP said.

“On the other hand, if we reaffirm our commitment to the temple, there is a chance we might regain our standing with the RSS and the VHP. The Liberhan issue may not be that big for the Congress. To us it represents something more fundamental, it is about what path we can take, moderation or back to basics.”

But the party’s hopes of rallying the RSS and the VHP were dashed after sections of these organisations questioned the BJP’s “commitment”, or lack of it, to the temple “cause”.

A source close to former RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan, also named in the report, asked why Advani had “veered” from the line that was agreed on.

“There was a consensus that we should call the (December 6, 1992) incident unfortunate but we should not express regret or apologise,” the source said. “Why then did Advani express regret a number of times?”

“We fully own up to the movement,” said Sangh spokesperson Ram Madhav. “We are not going to apologise.”

VHP general secretary Praveen Togadia said individuals had “no place” in the Ramjanmabhoomi agitation. “Individuals are born, die and (are) re-born but the movement goes on forever. Whether it is Vajpayee, Advani or anyone, we are all Ram bhakts (devotees).”

Togadia, who addressed the media, said he had consulted the RSS brass before the briefing.

It is learnt that if the RSS and the VHP were to revive the temple issue, they would distance their endeavour from the BJP. “We made a mistake once in handing over the reins to a political party. They harnessed the bene- fits that accrued, came to power… and kicked us out when they found our ideology inconvenient,” a Sangh insider said.

Kalyan Singh, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh when the mosque was targeted and named in the report, said it (the report) was “politically motivated and illogical”.

Out of the BJP, dumped by Mulayam Singh Yadav, he appeared to send feelers to his old party.

“I haven’t spoken to any BJP leader till now and nobody has contacted me. However, if there is a feeling in the party that it has been weakened by my exit, then I am ready to strengthen it,” he told PTI.

“No force on earth” can stop the Ram Mandir from being constructed at Ayodhya, he added.

But within the BJP, there was no visible enthusiasm towards Ayodhya. When the parliamentary party met this morning, a Bihar MP raised the issue of the RSS’s “takeover” of the BJP when the members were gearing up to discuss the Liberhan report.

Advani dwelt longer on a report in a financial daily that spoke of 1.4 trillion dollars of Indian money stashed away in Swiss banks.

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