Shahid K Abbas in New Delhi
The National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad appear to be heading for a confrontation on the issue of constructing a Ram temple at Ayodhya.
On Tuesday, the government affirmed that it would maintain the status quo at the disputed site as on January 7, 1993. It said security arrangements had been strengthened at Ayodhya while steps had been taken to maintain peace and communal harmony in the country.
"In compliance with the Supreme Court judgment dating back to October 24, 1994, in the case of Dr M Ismail Faruqui and others versus the Union of India and others, relating to the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, the central government, as statutory receiver, is duty-bound to maintain status quo," Union Minister of State for Home I D Swami told the Lok Sabha in a written reply to an unstarred question.
The Lok Sabha had witnessed uproarious scenes before being adjourned for half-an-hour after the chair disallowed the opposition's demand to suspend question hour and discuss the issue even as Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee expressed his willingness for a debate. The House met later to allow Railway Minister Nitish Kumar to present the Railway Budget.
The Rajya Sabha was also adjourned as almost the entire opposition trooped into the well demanding the suspension of question hour and a discussion of Ayodhya against the backdrop of the VHP's threat to start constructing the temple on March 15.
Swami admitted that the VHP leaders who met the prime minister on January 27 had discussed various issues relating to the decision taken by the dharam sansad [religious assembly] at the Kumbh Mela at Allahabad last year to start building the temple any day after March 12, 2002.
He also said representations had been received from the Maharashtra and Karnataka units of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board demanding prevention of any construction at the disputed site and the adjoining land, and confiscation of any construction material.
The VHP, which has stepped up efforts to cause an upsurge by March 15 in favour of the temple, has demanded that the prime minister facilitate the return of 67 acres of 'undisputed' land, which the P V Narasimha Rao government had 'unnecessarily' acquired, to the Ram Janambhoomi Nyas.
Nyas chief Mahant Ramchandra Paramhans and the VHP's international working president, Ashok Singhal, have adopted an unrelenting attitude though the erstwhile Rajnath Singh government in Uttar Pradesh had made it clear that it could not allow construction in view of the Supreme Court's order to maintain status quo.
But the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is dissecting its electoral defeat, is now exploring the consequences that the new government in Uttar Pradesh may face if the VHP goes ahead with its threat to start constructing the temple. A section of the party strongly feels that Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav should be allowed to form the government and face the fallout of the VHP's deadline.
No temple at Ayodhya without court verdict: Vajpayee
VHP to go ahead with temple 'at all costs'
Devotees throng Ayodhya to attend VHP yagna
Back to top
Tell us what you think of this report