Friday, February 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Ram Temple not on agenda: BJP
VHP ready for talks with Centre
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 31
Wilting under the pressure of NDA partners and with an eye on the crucial Assembly elections in UP, the BJP today distanced itself from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) campaign on Ayodhya warning that the Sangh Parivar outfit will have to face “legal consequences” if it went ahead with the construction of Ram Temple after March 12 disregarding judiciary.

“I am not bothered about whether the VHP will abide by the court verdict. If it does not, the legal consequences will follow”, party president Jana Krishnamurthy told newspersons asserting that the temple issue was not on the BJP agenda till 2004 when next Lok Sabha elections were due.

Fully backing the decision of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to refer to the Law Minister the issue of handing over of 67 acres of undisputed land to the Ram Janmabhoomi Trust, as claimed by the VHP and saints associated with the temple construction movement, the BJP President said “We will have to wait for the opinion of the Law Ministry.

The stern warning from the BJP comes in the wake of VHP ruling out further talks with the government on the Ayodhya issue and declaring that it would go ahead with the construction plans anytime after March 12 “under any circumstances”.

Virtually washing its hands off the Ram Temple issue on the eve of the crucial elections to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, he said its earlier stand that Ramjanmasthal be handed over to the Hindus was in the context of the situation existing then.

“Whatever might have been the stand of the BJP on earlier occasions, the party is now bound by the NDA agenda and it is left with no other choice but to respect the court’s verdict or a negotiated settlement”, he said.

Meanwhile, The VHP today said that while it had not closed its doors for talks with the Central Government on the temple issue, it would go ahead with temple construction after March 12 even if the 66 acres of “undisputed land” was not transferred to the Ram Janambhoomi Nyas.

Mr Ashok Singhal, working president of the VHP, said there was no question of confrontation with the government and doors of the VHP were open for talks. “We will continue to have meaningful dialogue with the government till March 12,” Mr Singhal said, two days after VHP’s international secretary Pravin Togadia had ruled out any further talks.

Mr Singhal claimed that there were no legal hurdles in the transfer of 67 acres of land at the controversial site in Ayodhya.

Maintaining that the Supreme Court judgement did not direct for a status quo on the land, Mr Singhal said the dispute pertained only to an area of about 320 sq ft which includes the sanctum sanctorum of the proposed temple.

Expressing concern over the time being taken to settle the dispute through courts, Mr Singhal said documents and archaeological evidence were important in settling the dispute through courts.

Though at one point Mr Singhal said the VHP “definitely” had faith in the judiciary, to a question as to what would happen if the court verdict went against them, he said “courts have no role to play in the matters of faith.”

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