Thursday, December 7, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

3 ministers not to resign: Vajpayee
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Dec 6 — Terming the December 6, 1992, carnage at the pilgrim centre of Ayodhya as a political issue, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee unequivocally rejected the demand of the Congress-led Opposition that the three Union Ministers chargesheeted in the Babri Masjid demolition case should resign.

Without hedging, Mr Vajpayee told mediapersons in Parliament House today that the Opposition was just trying to gain political mileage and he had no doubt that they would not be successful.

The Prime Minister remained unperturbed by the Opposition stalling the proceedings of both Houses of Parliament during the last three days in a renewed bid to embarrass the BJP coinciding with the eighth anniversary of the incident in Ayodhya.

Responding to questions, Mr Vajpayee emphasised that the Ayodhya case could not be compared with criminal cases. He sought to deflect the heat generated in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha by reiterating BJP’s oft repeated stand that the Ayodhya issue was a political movement. “As Ayodhya was a political movement these ministers were only present at the site,” he observed.

In an oblique reference to the recent resignation of Harin Pathak from the Union Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister maintained that the Ayodhya issue and a public person’s prima facie involvement in a criminal case could not be equated.

The Congress and other Opposition parties have been demanding the resignation of Union Home Minister L.K. Advani, Union Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi and Union Sports Minister Uma Bharti.

Further Mr Vajpayee said that Mr Advani, Mr Joshi and Ms Bharti had been elected to the Lok Sabha by people. “The fact the three ministers had the approval of Parliament and people is known to everyone. Since there is no change in their status, the demand (for their resignation) is totally illogical,” he said.

In his inimitable style, the Prime Minister said these parties had no issue to raise at the moment. “Hence they are raking up old matters and trying to draw political mileage from it.”

To a pointed question, Mr Vajpayee explained that construction of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya was a step towards meeting national aspirations though this work was yet to be completed.

The Prime Minister set the ball rolling with the BJP launching a frontal attack against the Congress, the Samajwadi and the Left parties for demanding the exit of Mr Advani, Mr Joshi and Ms Bharti from the Union Cabinet.

The BJP was not found wanting in taking the battle to the Congress for hijacking Parliament for its own political oneupmanship rather than debating serious national issues like reservation for women and the Constitution amendment pertaining to freezing of Lok Sabha constituencies till 2011 and not till 2026 as proposed earlier.

BJP president Bangaru Laxman quickly joined forces with the Prime Minister in charging the Congress with doing a “great disservice to the nation and the highest democratic body, the Indian Parliament, by its disgraceful behaviour over the last few days.”

He said by raking up the eight-year-old Ayodhya issue, the Congress had only exposed its own bankruptcy and dishonesty but the sole purpose in doing so, he contended was to remind the Indian Muslims “whom they perceive as their permanent vote bank that they alone are the saviours of the minorities. Mrs Sonia Gandhi and her followers are totally mistaken if they think that they can fool either the Muslims or the Hindus of this country by such duplicitous, self-serving and unprincipled politics.”

Asserting that the Congress was not interested in finding an amicable solution to the Ayodhya issue, Mr Laxman said the BJP always believed in reasoned debate even though the issue had been discussed countless times in both Houses of Parliament in the past decade. “The Congress is only interested in making a noise so that the inability of its leader to speak in Parliament and to argue out her point of view is masked.”

The BJP chief said the Congress feared that a debate on the Ayodhya issue would only expose its own complicity from the beginning to the end. After all, he pointed out that it was Rajiv Gandhi’s government that got the lock at the disputed structure opened. Again, it was the Rajiv Gandhi government that allowed the shilanyas to be performed at the site. “Not only did he accord official sanction for the shilanyas but he (Rajiv Gandhi) also sanctified it by sending his home minister as his reprsentative. The entire country knows that he and his party did to garner Hindu votes.”

Mr Laxman said that even in the fateful run-up to the sad incident of Decembr 6, 1992, the direct involvement of the Congress government under P V Narasimha Rao was now well established.Back


Sangh Parivar ropes in PM
From Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Dec 6 — In an enabling strategy to begin the construction of Ram Temple at the yet judicially undecided site in Ayodhya, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) today succeeded in roping in Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee when he publicly stated the task of construction of the temple was yet to be realised.

While Mr Vajpayee told newspersons after a book release function in Parliament House that “the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya was a manifestation of national sentiments which was yet to be realised”, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the BJP leaders not only welcomed the PM’s statement but went a step further demanding the resolution of the Ayodhya issue through a parliamentary legislation.

Worried at the serious erosion of their political base and dwindling mass support in states like Uttar Pradesh, the RSS leadership has been telling the BJP leaders including Mr Vajpayee that unless something concrete to improve the party’s image was not done now, its political fate was sealed.

A strategy on the Ayodhya temple was prepared at a meeting last week when the RSS chief, Mr K. Sudarshan met Mr Vajpayee along with the Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, the BJP president, Mr Bangaru Laxman, and the former party president, Mr Kushabhau Thakre, the sources said.

According to this well discussed and very well thought out strategy, all the members of the Sangh parivar would play their respective role.

The VHP, which has already announced that a decision on its exact plan to begin the construction of Ram Temple at the disputed site would be taken during the Mahakumbha at Allahabad next month, asked one of the BJP Lok Sabha MPs, Swami Chinmayanand, to raise the demand of resolution of the Ayodhya issue through legislation.

The Bajrang Dal and other organisations of the Sangh Parivar would be very aggressive on the Ayodhya issue in coming weeks with the objective of sharpening the communal divide for an eventual advantage in the assembly elections.

Addressing a specially convened press conference at the VHP office in North Avenue, Swami Chinmayanand said he had apprised the BJP leaders about his demand.

The saffron-clad MP, who was at the forefront of the Ayodhya temple movement in the late eighties and early nineties, informed he had also been authorised by the VHP to establish a dialogue with other political parties and Muslim leaders for making them agree to the construction of a temple at Ayodhya.

Meanwhile, the BJP general secretary, Mr Pyarelal Khandelwal, welcomed the PM’s statement and said there was only a temple there as even the disputed structure was demolished earlier.

Justifying the demand for a parliamentary resolution, Swami Chinmayanand asked if it was necessary to keep the conflict between Hindus and Muslims simmering when judicial verdict from the Supreme Court would not come before next 40 years.

The Sangh Parivar strategy is to bring back the alienated Hindu votes for the BJP in the Hindi heartland and at the same time achieve its long-term goal of telling the minorities that they should look towards the BJP also.

A question that emerges now is as why Mr Vajpayee has agreed to be roped in the RSS strategy. Those who are in the know of the latest developments are pointing out that the Prime Minister has agreed knowing fully well that none of his allies would abandon the NDA government at this stage.

When Mr Vajpayee said in New York that he was a Swayamsevak he was telling the truth, sources said, adding that now he had come into open with this statement.

Mr Vajpayee would like to go down in history as a person who succeeded in resolving the contentious issue through consensus and that is why he was going to eventually support the VHP demand for resolution of the issue through a legislation, sources said.

Another element of the strategy is to sharpen the differences between the two communities so that the BJP could gain in the coming assembly elections next year.

Otherwise, the fate of the NDA government would be sealed if the BJP performance was dismal in the assembly elections.

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