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Reign in the VHP
By PM Damodaran, Lucknow

The Prime Minister, Mr. AB Vajpayee, had made a few statements in December which were incongruous if not contradictory. But his views made in the 'Musings' from Kumarakom this month were forthright and open. Mr. Vajpayee at a function on 6 December described the Ayodhya movement as ‘an expression of national sentiment’. When this statement attracted severe criticism not only from the opposition parties and the Muslim leaders and organizations but also from several partners of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the prime minister announced in Parliament that his government would honour either the judicial verdict or an amicable settlement reached between the two communities in the case. 

Mr. Vajpayee had made the first statement apparently as a Bharatiya Janata Party leader. He had to make the second statement due to the compulsion of being the head of a coalition government. In his Musings from Kumarakom, the prime minister made it clear that though he felt the Ayodhya movement was a national sentiment, he wanted the dispute to be settled through either judicial route or through dialogue between the two sides. 

A reference made by him in his Musings had only confused the issue further. He had stated in his Musings that ‘irrespective of what the judicial verdict might be, its smooth implementation would require conducive social atmosphere’!This statement meant that Mr. Vajpayee is not even sure about the implementation of the judicial verdict in the case as the aggrieved party may come in its way. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and its associates had been saying that irrespective of the court verdict, a Ram Temple would be constructed at the disputed site as the faith of the Hindu community was involved in it. Apparently if the verdict went against the Ram Temple, the VHP would not allow it to be implemented. 

If the verdict went in favour of the temple, there would not be any difficulty in implementing it as the minority community had already announced its readiness to accept the judicial decision. After all, the VHP had demolished the disputed structure when a political party opposed to its ideology was in power at the centre! So the question of creating conducive social atmosphere is irrelevant if the verdict went in favour of the temple. On the other hand, if the court verdict went in favour of the Babri Mosque, what kind of a conducive social atmosphere Mr. Vajpayee, who had already stated that the Ayodhya movement is an expression of national sentiment, envisages to be created to implement it? Whether he will be able to impress upon the VHP to gracefully accept the verdict? It is very unlikely after he had already made his pro-temple statements. 

Moreover, through his pro-Ram Temple statement, the Prime Minister had expressed his views in the matter before the court gave its verdict. Through this statement, Mr. Vajpayee had even indirectly defended the demolition of the disputed structure by the kar sewaks in Ayodhya on 6 December 1992. In his Musings he had described the demolition as ‘a flagrant violation of the law, it certainly was. But it was also totally at variance with the Hindu ethos’. He added that ‘the wrongs of a medieval past cannot be righted by a similar wrong in modern times’! 
In his Musings, the prime minister had stated that he had been keeping away from making any statement on the Ayodhya issue for the past three years and he was forced to express his views in December after the opposition parties had started blocking the proceedings in Parliament demanding the removal of three charge-sheeted union ministers in the Ayodhya case from the ministry. If that was the case then why he made the statement that the Ayodhya movement was an expression of national sentiment instead of making a sober statement that he favoured a settlement to this dispute through judicial or dialogue routes. 

In his Musings, the prime minister clarified his statement that the Ayodhya movement was an expression of national sentiment. There was no dispute over the Ram Temple in Ayodhya and the only dispute was over where and how in Ayodhya the temple would be constructed. But he wanted this to be settled through judicial verdict or through agreement between the two communities. But Mr. Vajpayee has no suggestion to make on the construction of the Babri Mosque though at one point in his Musings he had remarked that ‘although the movement for the construction of a Ram Temple at Ayodhya was an expression of our national sentiment, this sentiment became narrow and its inclusive character became restrictive because of the unfortunate demolition of the disputed mosque structure on 6 December 1992.’

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