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January 28, 2002
1927 IST

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Congress criticises Vajpayee for meeting VHP team

Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi

The Congress on Monday criticised Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for conferring 'respectability' on the Sant Chetavani Yatra by receiving the delegation of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad."

He said that this was in conformity with 'BJP's customary technique of raising the temple issue at the election time'.

"While the VHP delegation meeting Vajpayee was not objectionable in itself, 'its timing is unfortunate," he added.

"It is important to note that the prime minister received the delegation after the election process was set in motion," he pointed out.

He said, "While Vajpayee's reference of the issue of the Ayodhya land to the law ministry may appear harmless, the fact of the reference at this point of time is intended to give fillip to the agenda of the sangh parivar."

He said the construction of the temple could not be allowed to start until the 'non-controversiality' of the temple plan was ensured in a foolproof fashion.

The temple plan of the VHP was such that the sanctum sanctorum (garbha graha) was to be built on the disputed site. Therefore, it was imperative that the issues relating to the disputed site must be finally settled before the construction of the temple began anywhere.

"The references about the expeditious judicial settlement of the issue is meaningless in the absence of unambiguous undertaking by the VHP to abide by the verdict of the Supreme Court," Reddy noted.

He pointed out that it was common knowledge that the VHP, BJP and RSS were acting in tandem at the ground level and during the current election campaign.

Later answering questions, he said, "We hold the government responsible for the alleged blackout by Doordarshan of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi who attended the Republic Day parade as well as the reception thrown by President K R Narayanan."

He made this statement following a reporter's question whether the Congress chief had attended the republic day parade.

Referring to the Ayodhya dispute, he said, "In our view, the most important issue is the temple plank."

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