The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Singhal dilutes acid ritual

Ahmedabad, Dec. 6: A subdued Vishwa Hindu Parishad today added strains of unusual voices to its customary chorus of minority-baiting, saying the Babri Masjid demolition had not been planned and grudgingly acknowledging the plausibility of Muslims and Hindus living in harmony.

Camping in Gujarat — the Sangh parivar’s new frontline – for a show of valour that fizzled out, VHP leader Ashok Singhal said the demolition was not planned but he added that he did not regret the felling of the mosque. Hardliners in the VHP usually do not miss any chance to sing praises to the way the demolition operation was executed.

Singhal offered the minority community his usual lesson in patriotism. But the usual edge was missing and he accepted that members of the minority community are also “sons of Bharat Mata”.

“Both Hindus and Muslims are sons of Bharat Mata. But how is brotherhood possible by mere talk of fraternity without accepting the country as their motherland and demanding a separate homeland'”

Singhal asked the minority community to give up its claim on Mathura, Kashi and Ayodhya to show that they believe in brotherhood and love this country, not Pakistan.

“I don’t say that the Quran has not preached brotherhood, peace and good deeds. But Muslims should follow these principles and behave accordingly,” he said.

The compulsions of electoral politics — Singhal’s programmes in Gujarat looked tailored to meet the requirements of the poll campaign — could have prompted Singhal’s seemingly soft stand.

The VHP, which had initially planned to hold Shaurya Divas meetings at the Akshardham complex, had to give up the plan after the temple authorities denied them permission. The outfit had to settle for two low-key meetings at Sola Road and Vijay Chowk in Bapunagar.

The crowd at the Sola Road meeting was thin. The meeting could not begin at the scheduled time of 6.30 pm as the organisers waited for more people to turn up. In the end, the crowd barely touched 2,000. The VHP blamed the no-show on police restrictions.

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