| Prime Minister AB Vajpayee, Speaker Manohar Joshi and President APJ Abdul Kalam at the opening of the budget session of Parliament on Monday. (Reuters)
New Delhi, Feb. 17: President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam today urged political and religious leaders not to escalate tension on the Ayodhya dispute and told a joint session of Parliament that it can be resolved through “negotiations between the two communities or through a verdict of the judiciary which has to be accepted by all concerned”.
The President’s speech, authored by the Centre, is usually taken to be the “voice” of the ruling dispensation. “While the judiciary should expedite its work and give an early verdict, it is also necessary for political parties, religious leaders and eminent social personalities to promote an atmosphere of mutual understanding, goodwill and accommodation,” Kalam said in the over hour-long speech.
His statements come in the wake of the Centre’s application in the Supreme Court to expedite the lifting of the ban on religious activity on the undisputed land in Ayodhya that the Ram Janambhoomi Nyas claims as its own.
The President advocated strong measures to check cross-border terrorism and infiltration and charged Pakistan with harbouring terrorist groups. “The infrastructure of terrorist groups remains intact in Pakistan,” he said.
“The funding of terrorist groups remains intact in Pakistan. Its assurances on cross-border terrorism have remained unfulfilled. National security is a matter of highest priority for my government,” he said.
Kalam lashed out at Pakistan for refusing to give up its anti-India stand. The continued attacks “showed there was a method in the madness of Pakistan-supported terrorist violence”, he said. “We must continue to be vigilant against an enemy unwilling to give up its anti-India stand.”
The illegal migration from Bangladesh, Kalam said, has “assumed serious proportions and is affecting many states”. “The ISI is also active in Bangladesh. This makes the issue of infiltration all the more serious. The government is determined to take all necessary steps to check this problem.”
The only light moment in the speech came when Kalam said: “Let us send our best wishes to the Indian cricket team in playing the World Cup tournament in South Africa.”
Amid laughter, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Laloo Prasad Yadav suggested “summoning back” Sourav Ganguly.
There was a word of reprimand for the Bimaru states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh for “their poor performance in stabilising population”.
Though Kalam emphasised women’s empowerment as a key governance issue, he avoided mention of the contentious 33 per cent reservation of seats for women in Parliament and Assemblies.