The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP takes Ayodhya cue

New Delhi, Sept. 11: L.K. Advani’s signal of Ayodhya returning to the BJP’s political arena has been grasped by his party.

A day after he told BJP office-bearers in Bangalore that the Archaeological Survey of India report on the Ayodhya excavations had vindicated the party’s stand and would “strengthen our position as far as the temple is concerned”, it was decided that a booklet would be released tomorrow.

Party spokesperson Prakash Jawdekar said the booklet will not delve into the history of the temple-mosque “dispute” or even the Ram rath yatra of the nineties. It will focus on the post-Babri demolition era and specifically the “politically instigated” charges against Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and others.

The title, Ayodhya Ki Gavahi (The Ayodhya Testimony), is a reflection of the booklet’s contents. The “witnesses” refer to those present on the spot on December 6, 1992, during the eight hours when the Babri mosque was demolished in the presence of RSS, BJP and VHP leaders.

Jawdekar said it will contain articles recently penned by two well-known columnists identified with the saffron viewpoint. The burden was that contrary to the charge that Advani had instigated the kar sevaks to destroy the mosque, he had actually tried to restrain them. Both said they were present on the spot.

The other two articles will be Advani’s account of his “prison days” in Mata Tilla, where he was detained along with Joshi, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar, Ashok Singhal and Vishnu Hari Dalmia briefly after the demolition. The “prison” Jawdekar spoke of was in fact a cheery government guesthouse atop a hillock, a popular picnic spot for the people of Jhansi, 20 km away. “Advani’s articles will also explain the logic of the agitation,” said Jawdekar.

In the BJP’s political dictionary, the Ram temple agitation is equivalent to the freedom struggle and, therefore, a lot of premium is placed on the occasions when Advani and the others were arrested and detained.

BJP sources claimed that their feedback was Ayodhya was “slowly but surely re-emerging on the centrestage”, especially in Uttar Pradesh where the party’s erstwhile bete noire Mulayam Singh Yadav is in the saddle. The state was identified in the Bangalore meeting as one where the BJP will have to start “reconstruction”. Hindutva, symbolised by the Ram temple, was considered the foundation to begin it.

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