New Delhi, Feb. 27: The Opposition today charged the Prime Minister with breaching his oath of office by making “brazenly partisan” remarks on the Ayodhya dispute and came down sharply on his NDA allies for becoming “mere prisoners” of the BJP.
Describing as “brazenly communal” the Centre’s move to approach the Supreme Court for vacation of the stay on “undisputed” land in Ayodhya, Congress’ Jaipal Reddy said it amounted to “subversion of the Constitution”.
Reddy said the BJP, in utter disregard of the NDA’s agenda for governance, was returning to its pre-1996 aggressiveness on the Ram temple issue as Assembly and Parliamentary elections were ahead.
There was no other provocation for Vajpayee to say during his Himachal Pradesh poll campaign that historical evidence would prove the temple’s existence at the disputed Ayodhya site, Reddy said. He also charged the Prime Minister with seeking to influence the Supreme Court on the issue.
CPM leader Somnath Chatterjee said he saw a pattern in the BJP’s return to the Ayodhya plank. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, sankaracharyas and sadhus, he said, were part of a campaign to revive the Ram temple issue.
For the first time since 1994, the VHP had sought to disturb the status quo in Ayodhya by demanding permission for shilapujan, he said. Now, the Sangh outfit had come up with the demand for handing over of the acquired land, which had prompted the Centre to approach the apex court.
Both Reddy and Chatterjee demanded that the Centre maintain status quo until the dispute’s settlement, either through negotiations or adjudication.
The two Opposition leaders attacked NDA allies as well. “Mr (Nitish) Sengupta, you are supporting this politically and morally corrupt government because you have sold your conscience,” Chatterjee said, pointing to the Trinamul Congress member.
Reddy hit out at the Telugu Desam Party. Drawing Desam leader Yerran Naidu’s attention, the Congress leader said: “They have sold their soul to the BJP. They are no longer partners; they have become adjuncts and prisoners.”
Initiating the debate under Rule 193, Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav said the BJP’s return to the Ayodhya issue was a sign of its desperation as the party had run out of poll planks because of the NDA government’s all-round failure.
Mulayam debunked Vajpayee’s talk of evidence of a temple’s existence in Ayodhya and referred to renowned professors B.N. Mandal’s and S.P. Srivastava’s assertion to the contrary.
The Samajwadi chief demanded that sadhus and sants trying to stoke communal tension by raising the temple issue be arrested and jailed. He also challenged the Centre to ask the court for expeditious disposal of the trial of the accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case and not just ask for a review of the 1994 court order on land acquisition.
Mulayam chided the NDA allies for becoming silent spectators as the BJP deviated from the alliance’s agenda for governance.
Along with Yerran Naidu, other NDA leaders such as Prabhunath Singh and Raghunath Jha of the Samata Party maintained that the alliance still stood by the agenda and would not allow any deviation.
Naidu, however, said each of the NDA partners and supporting parties was also entitled to their own separate agenda.
BJP members, however, defended the Centre’s move to approach the apex court. BJP’s Swamy Chinmayanand said the Congress had politicised the issue over the past 15 years to reap political dividends.
He claimed that a Ram temple had existed at the disputed site in Ayodhya and urged the House to help settle the issue by exercising its collective authority. Chinmayanand praised former prime minister Chandra Shekhar for an “honest” effort to amicably resolve the dispute during his brief tenure in office over a decade ago.