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PM playing Hindutva card to win HP polls: Opposition
February 21, 2003 23:59 IST
The opposition on Friday charged Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee with 'communalising' the situation in Himachal Pradesh to win the assembly polls there.
An agitated opposition in the Lok Sabha took strong exception to his remarks in an election rally that historical evidence would prove the existence of a temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya.
Raising the issue during zero hour amid strong protests from the ruling benches, Samajwadi Party member Ramji Lal Suman, who had given a notice of adjournment motion, said Vajpayee had deliberately made the statement to play the 'Hindutva card' and 'communalise' the situation to win the elections.
Responding to criticism, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said she too had read newspaper reports and she had spoken to Vajpayee on the matter. "The prime minister had categorically stated in his speech that we will abide by the Supreme Court verdict on the issue," she said.
"There could be no other reassuring statement to the nation than the one made by Vajpayee," Swaraj said, dismissing the charge that the situation is being communlised to gain political milage.
The opposition received unexpected support from the Janata Dal (United) whose leader Devendra Prasad Yadav said such a statement should have been avoided. He said the 'dharam sansad' [religious parliament] was beginning tomorrow to chalk out future course of action on Ayodhya when the matter was pending in Supreme Court.
But the rest of his words were drowned in the protests from other National Democratic Alliance members particularly those from Shiv Sena. "We will not tolerate if somebody talks against Hindutva," Shiv Sena member Chandrakant Khaire said.
The ruling BJP has no other issue except the Hindutva and it was not worried about the growing poverty and unemployment, Suman said, alleging, "It is bent upon vitiating the atmosphere in the country."
"BJP played the Hindutva card in the Gujarat elections and it wants to repeat it in HP," he charged.
Supporting him, Communist Party of India, (Marxist) member Basudeb Acharia said President A P J Abdul Kalam in his address to the joint sitting of Parliament on the opening day had clearly said the court verdict should be binding on all.
If the prime minister had any evidence about the existence of a temple at the disputed site, he should have submitted it to the court, he said.
Congress Party deputy leader Shirvaj Patil said, "A statement of this nature is not in the interest of society and the country."
CPI-M leader Somnath Chatterjee said they were concerned, as the statement had come from the head of the government. "A humble person can be hauled up for contempt of court," he remarked. Should elections be decided on communal lines, he said adding, "We condemn the PM's action."
Congress member S Jaipal Reddy said it was 'absolutely improper' for Vajpayee to have made such a statement. "We disapprove of it," he said.
Defending Vajpayee's statement, Samata Party member said nobody wanted to disturb communal harmony and the opposition had conveniently ignored the other part of his speech that 'we will abide by the court verdict'.
"The whole world now knows that Lord Ram was born in Ayodhya," he said adding, 'in such a situation do you expect that the temple be built in Pakistan? It has to be in Ayodhya."
Speaker Manohar Joshi rejected the notices for adjournment motion from Suman and Basudeb Acharia on the issue.