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PM’s volte face on Ayodhya issue
By Obaid Nasir

Lucknow: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has once again stunned the nation on Ayodhya issue when addressing the press conference in Lucknow Raj Bhavan he denied having ever said that the Ayodhya dispute will be solved before 12th March 2002 the date fixed by Hindu hotheads to start the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya on the disputed site without even slightly bothering for the law of the land.

However the fact is that in the same Raj Bhavan on 22nd October 2001 Mr Vajpayee in response to a question had proudly said that the vexed Ayodhya issue will be solved by the date fixed by VHP for the construction of the temple. He was asked about the preparedness of the government to face the challenge posed by VHP to overthrow all rules of a civilized society to start the construction of Ram Temple. It was a big news and the local press had rightly given it the prime place in its coverage. Later in the Parliament Mr Vajpayee not only stood by his words but also announced that the talks between both the parties are going on and it will not be in the national interest to reveal the names of those involved in the talks. He admitted that the talks to resolve the issue are going on but denied having fixed the dead line to find out any solution. He however appealed the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to postpone their programme of starting construction of Ram Temple from 12th March keeping in view the situation at Indo-Pak border. It seems that the aging process has weakened the Prime Minister’s memory. To remember what he has said he has simply to go back to the files of any newspaper to be sure that he had actually announced that the solution to Ayodhya issue will be found by 12th March 2002.

Parveen Bhai Togadia the international general secretary of Vishwa Hindu Parishad rejected the PM’s appeal with contempt and clearly said that he did not trust the Prime Minister on Ayodhya issue and his organisation will follow its own course of action regarding the construction of the temple. On the other hand VHP supremo Ashok Singhal has said that his organisation will wait for the result of the talks as disclosed by Vajpayee Ji. He however clarified that the agitational programme of VHP will only be postponed if there is a war between India and Pakistan. If the Prime Minister is right in saying that he has never fixed any date to find out the solution what has prompted these two important members of the Sangh Parivar to comment on his statements. It is very easy to blame that the ‘press has distorted my statement’. Are Togadia and Singhal also distorting your statement, Mr Prime Minster?

It is surprising that the Prime Minister is not disclosing the names of those Hindu and Muslim delegates who are engaged in talks to solve the dispute. Prime Minister seems to be ignorant of the fact that the dispute is being heard in the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court and no individual or party or community could take any decision one-sidedly. The whole legal process has to be completed before implementing any decision taken by parties concerned for out-of-court settlement.

This is true that the Prime Minister has revived the Ayodhya cell in his office and Mr Shatrughan Singh, the director of the cell, visited Ayodhya last month and went through all the documents relating to the disputes. According to the sources he has discussed the issue with the concerned officers but refused to meet any delegation. The assessment is that the government is weighing all the pros and cons of handing over the undisputed land to Ram Janam Bhoomi Trust to enable them to start the construction from undisputed site. But supreme court directions in this regard will come in its way and any attempt to hand over any part of the occupied 77 acres of land will tantamount to contempt of court.

The grapevine is that the government is also planning to split the Muslim unity on this issue by highlighting the fact that the mosque was built by Mir Baqui, a commander of Babur who was a Shia. The mosque was in the possession of Shias till 1940 and was registered in the Sunni Waqf Board name thereafter. The government is thus trying to deal with Shia clerics with the intention of killing two birds with one stone.

It is however not clear with which Shia clerics the government is flirting. Maulana Kalbe Sadiq and Maulana Kalbe Jawad are two most important Shia clerics enjoying confidence and respect all over the country. They are equally revered by Shias and Sunnis. Maulana Kalbe Sadiq is the Vice President of All India Muslim Personal Law Board and member of its committee on Babri Masjid. 

Naturally his stand will not differ from that of Board. His nephew Maulana Kalbe Jawad like his illustrious father Maulana Kalbe Abid is devoting all his time and energy in strengthening Shia-Sunni unity. Thus both these clerics’ hobnobbing with government on Babri Masjid issue is simply out of question. Government may be dealing with Maulana Agha Roohi and Maulana Hameedul Hasan, the principal of Jamia Nazmia. Maulana Agha Roohi is the bonafide member of BJP and is almost untouchable in Shia community whereas Maulana Hameedul Hasan does not enjoy as much respect and confidence as the Ijtehad family (Kalbe Sadiq etc.).

Recently Mr Shatrughan Singh visited Lucknow and at the residence of a senior journalist met certain important functionaries of Babri Masjid movement including Mr Zafaryab Jilani and Mr Abdul Mannan who advised him not to waste his time and energy in brokering the settlement of this vexed issue as the attitude of Mandir champions is uncompromising. Rather, the case be expedited by starting day to day hearing of the case.
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