Tuesday, August 5, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

PM to quit rather than act under pressure
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 4
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said today in the Lok Sabha that he would give up ‘rajpaat’ (power) and leave the day he felt he was under pressure from any quarter to build a Ram temple at Ayodhya.

Rebutting charges levelled by Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav that the Prime Minister was “under pressure’’ on the temple issue, Mr Vajpayee said, “There is no compulsion.’’

Replying to an impromptu debate on the notice of adjournment motion given by Opposition members, the Prime Minister said, “The government’s stand on the Ayodhya issue remains unchanged. I have not said anything about Ayodhya that should give rise to debate. If I said at the meeting held to condole the demise of Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas chairman Ramchandradas Paramhans that his dream for a Ram temple should be fulfilled, there is nothing wrong with it. He had spent his entire life for this cause. A thousand people had gathered at the condolence meeting where I expressed my reverence.’’

Mr Vajpayee regretted that a controversy had arisen out of his tributes to Paramhansji. “People express their feelings and their feelings should be respected. The Prime Minister is a human being and he has also got emotions and feelings.’’

He said the Opposition should praise him for exercising restraint in such a situation. Mr Vajpayee said he had stated a hundred times what he said at Ayodhya while paying homage to Paramhansji. “I have never said where the temple would be constructed. I have always said that there are only two ways of resolving the dispute — either through a negotiated settlement or acceptance of the court verdict.’’

Not convinced with the Prime Minister’s clarifications, the entire Opposition staged a walkout.

Opposition leaders Priyaranjan Das Munshi (Congress), Somnath Chatterjee (CPM), Mulayam Singh Yadav (Samajwadi Party) and Ram Vilas Paswan (Lok Janshakti) demanded that the Prime Minister express regret for making such a statement.

In his counter-attack, Mr Vajpayee asked whether anybody had cared to go through his entire speech made at Ayodhya on August 1. “I did not say who would construct the temple or where it would be constructed. But a large section wants the construction of the temple there,’’ he said.

Mr Vajpayee said differences on the temple issue had come in the way of a solution.

During the discussion, Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav had said that Mr Vajpayee had changed his stand under compulsion. “You are under a compulsion. You are helpless, but don’t make the country helpless. This will ruin the country and divide society. You must express regret,’’ Mr Yadav said.

Congress chief whip Priyaranjan Dasmunshi said the Prime Minister was in the habit of changing his statements. He said the Prime Minister should take the House into confidence on the Ayodhya issue and the construction of the temple.

Mr Somnath Chatterjee said the Prime Minister’s statement was an attempt to divide the nation on communal lines. “The Prime Minister should not make any statement when the matter is pending in Court,’’ he said.

Mr Chatterjee charged the Prime Minister with “trying to use a solemn occasion for narrow political ends.”

Mr Ram Vilas Paswan said the RSS and other Sangh Parivar outfits had conspired to weaken the country. “We have all experienced that the VHP, the Bajrang Dal and the BJP are all channels. The transmitter is the RSS.” 

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