The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Singhal temple knock on parties

Lucknow, July 8: Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal’s threat yesterday to build the Ram temple by force today turned into a vow to launch a political movement.

After daylong discussions failed to mobilise adequate support from the mahants of Ayodhya, Singhal said: “We will try to get all political parties to clarify their stand on the construction of Ram temple and press for a central legislation.”

“If this does not come (through), we may ask one of our supporters to introduce a private bill and seek conscience votes of the MPs, cutting across party lines,” he said.

Singhal could mobilise only a handful of influential mahants in Ayodhya, where a strong anti-VHP current is flowing, as Mahant Ramchandradas Paramhans was in hospital after a second heart attack in a month.

“In that case, we expect (Congress chief) Sonia Gandhi, the Samajwadi Party and those belonging to the NDA not to issue whip to their MPs and allow them to vote according to their conscience.”

“But in case a whip is issued, the VHP would have no other option but to launch a mass movement against the parties which oppose the construction of a temple,” he said.

All political parties should decide whether they were prepared to bring in such a legislation, Singhal said. “The parties which do not support the legislation would stand exposed,” he warned.

Singhal’s recourse to a political movement was in sharp contrast to his outburst yesterday when he had exhorted VHP and Bajrang Dal workers to be ready to use “force for the construction of the temple”.

He had said this soon after calling on Paramhans, the Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas chairman, who has been convalescing in Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medicine for the last two days.

According to Singhal, the VHP was mobilising support from MPs for a legislation; 169 MPs had, so far, given their written consent.

Dismissing queries about a deadline for beginning temple construction, he said the VHP’s high-powered committee on temple construction — scheduled to meet in Delhi on July 11 — was the only forum authorised to decide this.

Singhal, who must have missed Paramhans, is said to have discussed with his confidants the likelihood of bringing in a successor to the ailing trust chief.

The doctors at the hospital described Paramhans’ condition as “stable but not out of danger”.

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