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Ayodhya: Blow hot, blow cold...
By Obaid Nasir, Lucknow

Blow hot blow cold is how the present policy of saffron brigade can be described vis-a-vis the Ayodhya dispute. The defeat in the recently-held local body election, particularly in Ayodhya and Faizabad the nerve centre of Mandir movement, has sent shock waves, compelling The BJP to go back to its time-tested plank of Ram Mandir. It all started with the infamous remark of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee terming the Mandir movement as the expression of national sentiments. However, his Kumarkoam ‘musing’ was an attempt to pacify his allies and the media which has taken him to task for his provocative remark which was received well by the Sangh Parivar. 

The VHP is bent upon declaring the date of temple construction after the so-called ‘Dharam Sansad’ (religious parliament) meeting in the on going Kumbh mela. Ground level preparations have already been completed to immediately start the construction irrespective of the fact that the matter is sub judice. ‘Had Babur broken the Ram temple with the permission of Supreme Court?’ is how VHP supremo Ashok Singhal shot back when he was reminded of the fact during his recent press conference in the state capital. Prime Minister and Bangaru Laxman may say that the temple construction is not in the agenda of National Democratic Alliance and that any body trying to disturb the status quo in Ayodhya will be dealt strictly with but his party's state Chief Kalraj Misra declared in unequivocal term that the Ram Mandir is very much on the NDA agenda. In recently held state executive meeting of the BJP in Jhansi the Ayodhya dispute was blown in full and the commitment to construct a grand temple at the disputed site was reiterated. Not only Ram mandir issue but almost dead Religious Places Bill and the issue of banning the SIMI were also raised.

Party 's national president Mr. Bangaru Laxman also attended the session but did not utter even a single word in his valedictory speech on all the three contentious issues raised by state party chief Kalraj Misra. 

Not satisfied with his mischief in Jhansi Kalraj Misra addressed a press conference in Lucknow after coming back from Jhansi and again declared that the Ram mandir issue was very much on the agenda of NDA. "Puja is being held there everyday.The only thing needed is to construct a grand temple replacing the makeshift one.People are having the darshan of Ram lalla (child Ram's idol). How can one say there is no Ram mandir.’ The claims of Hindus for Ram Mandir were justified and Muslims should withdraw their claim in the interest of peace and harmony "warned the state BJP chief indirectly.

About the controversial Religious Places Bill Mr. Misra criticized the opposition for unnecessarily terming it as anti minority.Such bills exist in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh ruled by Congress and in West Bengal ruled by left front why not they are opposed in that state he asked, conveniently forgetting that it is the track record of saffron brigade that makes them doubtful among secular forces.

On the negotiated settlement of the Ayodhya dispute he showed ignorance over the fact the one of his general secretaries and member of parliament from Faizabad, Vinay Katiyar, has started a dialogue with local Muslim people if not with Muslim leaders. Scribes covering his press conference were taken aback when he said that he was not aware of any such move on the part of Vinay Katiyar, the state general secretary of the party and champion of the Mandir movement. 

The much publicized talks between Muslim leaders of Faizabad with Mr. Vinay Katiyar were held just one day before his said press conference that too in the state capital and in the state guest house.It was given first page coverage in the local press and was the top story in the electronic media. Why Mr Misra wants to under play this is a million dollars question.

Though the talks held at the initiative of Mr. Vinay Katiyar the fire brand former president of Bajrang Dal proved to be a damp squib as no leader of any status from Ayodhya and Faizabad joined it but it was a pleasant surprise to see Mr. Vinay katiyar talking of communal harmony and brother hood among Hindus and Muslims. Mr. Hashim Ansari one of the litigant of the Babri Masjid case who belongs to Ayodhya also failed to turn up in the meeting even though his differences with the so-called heroes of Babri Masjid Action Committee particularly with Zafaryab Jilani and Azam Khan are well known. 

Haji Sagheer Ahmad Imam of Bharwa Bhit village mosque, Haji Masood Ashraf Ashrafi Imam of Poore Kamgar village mosque, two gram Pradhans and a few members of Block Development Committee (BDC) and few petty shopkeepers, cycle scooter mechanics etc. were brought to Lucknow for the show. They all resolved to solve this contentious issue at local level and not allow the outsiders to exploit the situation for their political gains. Scribes particularly grilled Haji Sagheer Ahmad the 70 year old Imam of Bharvabhit village mosque and asked him what he actually wanted. His reply was that he wants both mosque and temple in Ayodhya. When asked further what in his opinion is the solution of this vexed problem he innocently said that they want to construct the Ram mandir from the garbh griha (sanctum sanctorum) let them construct it from there and leave the remaining place for the masjid. He, however, hurriedly added that it was just a suggestion and he will speak to his community members before reaching final solution. It was resolved in the meeting the Muslim delegation will visit the disputed site to have a first hand information about that place. 

Mr. Vinay Katiyar addressed the press after the meeting and declared to continue his efforts to solve the problem through negotiations. He said that 78 wars between Hindus and Muslims over this issue have taken place claiming more than 0.35m lives (Paramhans Ram Chandra Das, Ram Janam Bhoom Nyas Trust chairman, put it at one million) we don't want further bloodshed. First Nawab of Avadh (Burhanulmulk Sa'adat Ali Khan) constructed the Hanuman Garhi and Muslim soldiers were deputed to protect the Kanak Bhawan, our efforts are to bring this atmosphere of goodwill and harmony back again. Which face of saffron brigade is trust worthy is difficult to decide.
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