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Atal Bihari Vajpeyee a moderate leader?
By Mir Zafar Ali Khan (Rtd IAS), Hyderabad

Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee as the prime minister of India has declared in Lok Sabha that construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya is an unfinished task and an expression of national feelings. The prime minister’s justification of demolition of Babri Masjid as an act of national sentiment and proclaiming that the construction of Ram Temple is unfinished task could not come at a worse time for the citizens of this country as he has provided justification for all the wings of Sangh Parivar to restart their activities in full swing connected with the construction of the Temple at Ayodhya. 

The basic point to be examined here is what is national sentiment and how far Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee is qualified to declare this issue of Ayodhya dispute as National Issue. 

The BJP has contested three General Elections in the recent past under leadership of Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee and have never polled more than 37% of the popular votes in its favour. With this limited support at national level how Atal Behari Vajpayee as a leader of BJP can be viewed as qualified to declare a disputed issue as national issue. National sentiments cannot be equated with communal sentiments because majority of Hindus specially almost all sections of backward classes of Hindu religion do not subscribe to the ideology of Hindutva and to the conception of Hindu Rashtra as conceived by Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, Mr. L.K. Advani and Mr. Sundarshan Maharaj who are the true disciples of Mr. Golwalkar who originally floated the concept of Hindu Rashtra with Hindutva philosophy as its base.

The recent utterances of Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee and Mr. L.K. Advani’s participation at a RSS meet at Agra and saluting the Sangh flag, being a member of National Governments, Speaks volume how BJP is working their strategies to consolidate Hindu vote bank keeping in view of coming elections in various states particularly in Uttar Pradesh. After the BJP debacle in the local elections in Gujarat and to some extent in Uttar Pradesh the thinking of all the wings of RSS is to win back the Hindu electorate at any cost.

Atal Behari Vajpayee is not an accidental swayamsevak of RSS but he is a committed swayamsevak as declared by him in his recent speech at Staten Island in the United States that RSS is his soul and Hindu Rashtra his dream. The most tragic part in this sudden aggressive change of communal posture adopted by BJP’s leadership is betrayal of trust reposed in it by people in general and by the coalition partners in particular who are at the moment too busy enjoying the fruits of power to worry too much about it.

The one big advantage that the BJP enjoys today is absence of a united viable opposition. The ineffective leadership of Sonia Gandhi has divided the congress with internal animosities in various states. Almost all other major political parties in opposition suspect the sincerity and commitment to secularism of the congress. They even today distinctly remember the role of Mr. Rajiv Gandhi as a prime minister and Congress president in managing the locks of Babri Masjid opened and in organizing shilaniyas at disputed site. The role of Mr. P.V. Narsimha Rao as Prime Minister and Congress President to remain as a mere spectator when Babri Masjid was being demolished is fresh in the minds of all the leaders of major opposition parties. With these memoirs in their mind, the present leadership feel that Congress is also equally responsible for Ayodhya dispute in the present form.

It seems that major secular political parties in NDA have also a common one point hidden agenda regarding construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya at the disputed site where at present one Makeshift temple already exists. With the attitude of these political parties in NDA i.e., Trinamul Congress and Telugu Desam Party it is clearly evident that they are fully satisfied with the tactical commitment of Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee that he will abide by the Court verdict. But in reality there is no case pending as on today before Supreme Court except a few contempt petitions. As a matter of fact the Supreme Court has already issued a pro communal order to maintain status quo in favour of the Makeshift temple installed after the destruction of Masjid. 

The Supreme Court has already rejected the presidential reference in 1994 to get drawn into deciding the issue, and has asked the Allahabad High Court to decide the pending suit on merit. With this eye wash assurance of the prime minister, the BJP has managed to defeat the censure motion with the help of the secular regional partners in ruling NDA. 

It seems these regional parties have compromised with this dispute to cling on to power at any cost as they are not prepared to rock the boat and face fresh elections. 
A: Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s new theory in relation to his advice to NDA partners in Government not to raise public issues which are likely to embarrass the Government tantamounts to suggest that the issues championed by Sangh Parivar bear national interest and to challenge them would adversely effect the nation. 
This kind of perverted thinking is totally unacceptable to the country. National sentiments can not be equated with the sentiments and wishes of a section of the majority. This kind of advise is to dictate terms to the constituents of a multi party coalition who may not agree with or subscribe to the BJP stand on any issue of national concern. 

Prime Minister Vajpayee instead of meeting the opposition argument regarding the resignation of three charge sheeted Ministers in the demolition of Babri Masjid case on merit made a grossly inept statement that "The construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya was an expression of National feeling which is yet to be realized" . Raking up this issue of Ayodhya, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee as Prime Minister has brought into disrepute the high office of the country’s Prime Minister and has also downgraded the authority of the national government. As prime minister of this country Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee cannot afford to be partisan and communal in thought and in deed. He should realize and understand that the country and its people are greater than a temple. 

The wavering minds of Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee and his colleagues in Government representing Sangh Parivar do not understand the real meaning of secularism as they have not participated in the great struggle of Independence, where all our leaders, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Rajender Prasad, Abul Kalam Azad, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and others were honest and secular to the core. Under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership, these leaders strongly believed that our country can only grow and prosper with secular ideology and gave us a Constitution based on secular principles as its fundamental character.
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