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Congress drove BJP to Ayodhya: Advani

April 06, 2004 12:52 IST
Last Updated: April 06, 2004 19:16 IST

The deputy prime minister said the Ram Janmabhoomi movement was a defining moment in history.

Asserting that the Ram Janmabhoomi movement was a 'defining moment' in contemporary Indian history, Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani on Tuesday said the Bharatiya Janata Party participated in the temple agitation angered by the 'duplicity and double standards' of the Congress.

"Ayodhya has a special significance for me and the BJP. In 1990, I began the Ram Rath Yatra from Somnath, hoping to conclude it in Ayodhya. I did not reach my destination then, but the Ram Janmabhoomi movement was a defining moment in contemporary Indian history," he told reporters in Ayodhya before setting out on the 25th day of his Bharat Uday Yatra.

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"Many lakhs of people participated in the great upheaval and scores of people laid down their lives for establishment of a grand temple in Ayodhya. Contribution by tens of thousand villagers across the country established the emotional bond with the proposed Ram temple," he said.

"For the BJP, participation in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement was not prompted by religiosity; we were angered by the duplicity and double standard of the then Congress government and used the occasion to initiate a much needed debate on secularism in India," he said.

"Two events inspired us to join the movement: one was the Shah Bano case where the Rajiv Gandhi government passed a constitutional amendment to overturn a Supreme Court order. This was done under pressure from Muslim clerical leaders who had gone to the extent of boycotting the Republic Day function."

"The Congress government played vote bank politics and allowed the foundation laying ceremony and opening of locks of the doors of the disputed structure. We are happy that this development took place, but the Congress was playing vote bank politics in the name of secularism," he said.

"Our relentless assault on what we called pseudo-secularism proved a much needed corrective. It set the ground rules for an even-handed approach to issues affecting religious communities," he said adding it also proved to be a very effective antidote to attempts to fragment Hindu society along antagonistic caste lines.

Advani admitted the phenomenal growth of the BJP between 1989 and 1996 owed a great extent to 'our' support to the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.

"For us, Ayodhya will always remain a potent symbol of national awakening. The sentiments of millions of Hindus are tied to the construction of a grand temple of Lord Ram at his birthplace in Ayodhya. The (BJP's) vision document released last week makes it clear that the BJP remains committed (to the temple movement)," Advani said.

Asked whether he would have been the prime minister by now but for the Ayodhya demolition, he said, "That's not the issue. The BJP would have got a clear majority by now if it was not for Ayodhya (demolition)."

The Ayodhya Dispute: Complete Coverage

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