YEH HAI INDIA
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Gift your parents good health
Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee drew the curtain on Saturday on his efforts to resolve the Ayodhya dispute through negotiations. "I have not succeeded in my efforts," he admitted candidly.
Blaming both sides, he said, "Both parties have been absolutely unrelenting, with the result that the matter remains unresolved."
Asked if he had suggested any solution of his own, Vajpayee replied, "The talks did not reach that stage where such a suggestion could have been made."
He, however, refrained from divulging the names of the parties that were engaged in the secret talks.
The prime minister had disclosed a couple of months ago in Lucknow that negotiations were under way to try and resolve the dispute. He had also given March 12 as the date by when he hoped to have a solution.
While admitting that he was in no position to give any fresh assurance on the issue, Vajpayee warned that he would not allow a 1992-like situation to arise again.
Commenting on the March 12 deadline issued by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad for starting construction of the temple, he said, "Let the deadline come. We will deal with the situation."
When a reporter asked if the administration would stop VHP leaders from going ahead with their plan to defy the courts on the issue, Vajpayee said, "I do not think there is any need to stop them. "
On the VHP's oft-repeated stance that it does not care if the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government loses power, he was sarcastic: "It is nice to hear sadhus talking about governments staying and going; what else can you expect from saints?"
But in a veiled warning, he added, "We have gone ahead with the elections despite threats, so we will handle the situation when it comes to their deadline."
About the VHP's demand to hand over the 'undisputed' part of the land in Ayodhya to the Ram Janambhoomi Trust, he said, "We have referred the matter to the law ministry where various documents are being examined."
He declined to give any time frame within which the ministry would take a decision, but agreed that the Ayodhya case needed to be disposed of soon and said he would implore the chief justice of India for an early constitution of a special bench for this purpose.
Vajpayee, who is on a whirlwind campaign tour of Uttar Pradesh, again called on the electorate to give the BJP a clear mandate, saying it alone could provide stable and good governance to India's most populous state.
He parried a pointed query on the possibility of a post-election tie-up with the Bahujan Samaj Party, saying, "I am confident of a clear mandate. It is premature to say anything about a different situation."
Criticising Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's propaganda about India conducting a new nuclear test, the prime minister said, "The position is quite clear even to the United States; Washington has understood and clarified that Musharraf is telling lies. I think now every understands that his statements are to be taken only with a pinch of salt."
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