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January 30, 2002
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BJP-VHP compromise over Ayodhya

Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has agreed upon a compromise formula with the Bharatiya Janata Party over the Ayodhya issue.

The compromise entails that while the VHP would drop its deadline of March 12 for the construction of the temple in Ayodhya, the government would ensure that the case related to the dispute pending in the Allahabad high court is expedited.

A senior law ministry official told rediff.com that the agreement was arrived at when Union Law Minister Arun Jaitley met senior VHP leaders on Monday.

"Public posturing is one thing and a political trade-off another. That is what has happened between the VHP and the BJP. It suits both eminently to put up a pretence of a face-off as far as the polls in UP are concerned," the official underscored.

"The [VHP] deadline is a myth. You will see that the status quo in Ayodhya will remain after March 12 despite the fire and brimstone statements of VHP leaders," he pointed out.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad international general secretary Praveen Togadia told reporters on Tuesday that the VHP would recruit 1 million Ram sevaks to carry out the temple construction work in Ayodhya after March 12.

The law ministry official pointed out that to expedite the Ayodhya case, the government intended to fill up several vacancies existing in the Allahabad high court.

A senior BJP leader said it was in a strategic move that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee involved Defence Minister George Fernandes in his talks last Sunday with VHP leaders. This was done for the ostensible purpose of projecting the impression that the Ayodhya issue was not being handled by the BJP exclusively.

"People are under the illusion that the VHP will bring the Vajpayee government down over the Ayodhya dispute. Nothing could be further from the truth because it [the VHP] is interested in the government's survival. Only under a BJP-led government does VHP have a chance of seeing its dream of constructing a Ram mandir in Ayodhya coming to fruition," the BJP said.

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