Don’t break India to such an extent that uniting the country becomes impossible, the Opposition Congress appealed to the ruling BJP on Tuesday, cautioning against the frenzy being whipped up around the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi and flagging a raft of economic challenges.
“I am requesting the BJP, they should kindly take a relook at the way they are functioning. They should kindly take a relook at the way they are governing. Don’t break the country so badly, to such an extent that uniting the country becomes impossible. That’s why we have come up with the Bharat Jodo slogan. We are going to carry out yatras throughout the country asking people to be together,” Congress general secretary Ajay Maken said.
The Congress iterated that status quo should be maintained at all religious sites under the Places of Worship Act, 1991. The act prohibits conversion of any place of worship and seeks to maintain the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August, 1947.
Maken alleged that polarising controversies were being manufactured to divert attention from the failures of the Narendra Modi government at a time the economic situation had turned grim. Former home minister P. Chidambaram had said the same thing a few days ago in the context of the Gyanvapi mosque row.
Responding to the question about the claim of the discovery of a Shivalinga on the Gyanvapi premises, Maken said: “The Supreme Court is looking into the matter. The order passed by the Supreme Court in the Babri mosque case was under the Places of Worship Act, 1991.
“All the controversies should be seen in the context of this law, which calls for status quo. But we are clear that the BJP and its affiliated outfits are raising such matters because they don’t want the real issues to be discussed.”
Maken said: “Prices of essential commodities and unemployment have reached an unbearable extreme today. The wholesale price index that has come today is 15.08 per cent, the highest ever. The rupee has tumbled to its lowest. We have seen what happened in Sri Lanka.
“The BJP doesn’t want the real issues to dominate public discourse. When the BJP divides the people of India, they break the country. India is not only a landmass, a geographical entity. Dividing people on the basis of religion and caste is breaking India.”
The Congress called a meeting on Tuesday of general secretaries and state minders to discuss the timely implementation of the new resolve finalised at the Udaipur Chintan Shivir. The meeting will continue on Wednesday. The party will hold state-level workshops to sensitise the organisational machinery about the new decisions.
The party’s election department has also been informed of the decision to reserve 50 per cent seats for those aged below 50 and fix the maximum tenure at five years for office-bearers.
What the law says
Key provisions of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991
⚫ The religious character of a place of worship existing on the 15th day of August, 1947 shall continue to be the same as it existed on that day….
⚫ No suit, appeal or other proceeding with respect to any such matter shall lie on or after such commencement in any court, tribunal or other authority
⚫ No person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination or any section thereof into a place of worship of a different section of the same religious denomination or of a different religious denomination or any section thereof
⚫ Whoever contravenes the provisions… shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine
⚫ Act not to apply to Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid