|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
PM only interested in getting elected again: Togadia
Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi | June 20, 2003 00:14 IST
Sidelined by the current initiative led by the shankaracharya of Kanchi, Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal, to resolve the Ayodhya mandir-masjid tangle, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad on Thursday began showing signs of frustration.
While the VHP's chief Vishnu Hari Dalmia told a press conference in Lucknow that he had lost faith in the prime minister, the organisation's international general secretary, Pravin Togadia, claimed in Kota, Rajasthan, that a compromise with Muslims would be unacceptable even if it facilitated the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed spot in Ayodhya.
Both said the Kanchi seer was being used by the prime minister's office to arrive at a hasty settlement with Muslim organisations before the 2004 general election.
In a telephone conversation with rediff.com, Togadia made no attempt to hide his displeasure at the VHP being kept out of the parleys between the shankaracharya and the Babri Masjid Action Committee.
"We have been struggling for the [Ram mandir] movement," he said. "We have taken out innumerable rallies in every nook and corner of India. Muslims have never come out on the streets against the construction of a Ram temple [in Ayodhya]. Our people have died for the Ram temple and now the prime minister's office wants to ignore our struggle and wants to deal with the Muslims? They ignored us in the last five years. And now suddenly why are they sending formulas to Muslims?"
The shankaracharya, who has been holding talks with the BMAC to settle the thorny dispute, sent a fresh proposal to the panel on June 17. His previous proposal had led to the resignation of All-India Muslim Personal Law Board vice-president and Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Sadiq from the committee. Maulana Sadiq subsequently withdrew his resignation.
Senior VHP leaders in Delhi said the prime minister's advisers have been in touch with the Kanchi seer for a long time now. "The PMO thinking has been that if before the 2004 general election the Ayodhya dispute can be solved under the guidance of the Kanchi shankaracharya, it would create a massive wave in the BJP's favour," a VHP leader said.
Another VHP leader claimed that only last month Ramchandra Das Paramhans, president of the Ramjanambhoomi Nyas (trust), was asked by Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani to accept a formula suggested by the Kanchi seer under which if the Muslims agreed to the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, Hindus would drop their claim to the land in Kashi and Mathura, where similar disputes exist.
He said Paramhans refused to agree to any such formula.
"Imagine the footage of the foundation ceremony of Ram temple. It will help the government enhance its image. And if Muslims are present in the same frame as the Hindu pundits, Vajpayee will get a place in the history books," the VHP leader said.
Asked what possibly could be the VHP's objection if the Kanchi seer with the help of the prime minister's men could arrive at an amicable settlement with the Muslim leaders and the Ram temple construction could begin as a result, Togadia said: "Because we don't want Muslims to have a veto. They should not have a veto to allow us or not allow us to build Ram mandir. Why should the power to permit construction of a Ram mandir lie in the hands of Muslims? The PMO via the Kanchi seer is gifting them the power to decide, which is not acceptable to us. Any kind of bargaining with Muslims will defeat the very purpose of the Ayodhya movement."
Togadia said that ever since the days of the Khilafat movement, Indian Muslims have had the power of veto in important decisions in India and the aim of the Ayodhya movement was to rob them of this power.
He said that under the Kanchi seer's formula, a 'quid pro quo' is being offered to the Muslims -- if they allow Hindus to build a Ram temple, the central government will consider giving them 9 per cent reservation in jobs.
"Hindus would like to know the details of the first proposal [that the Kanchi seer sent to the BMAC]. We believe Rs 50 crore have changed hands. This is not a negotiation for Ram mandir, it's a compromise of Hindu pride," Togadia said.
He said the prime minister is taking advantage of the Kanchi seer's credibility to negotiate with Muslims so that nobody can raise any questions on the 'final bargain'. "The prime minister of India is interested in getting elected again," he said.
Ashok Tandon, officer on special duty in the prime minister's office, refused to respond to Togadia's allegations. "We can't react to media reports," he said. "They are talking to the media, they haven't told us anything."
More reports from Uttar Pradesh
Read about: Ayodhya Dispute | Madhumita Murder Case