Dismissing the role of Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy as negotiator for the Ram temple issue, the main parties to the case on Thursday demanded setting up a panel of Supreme Court judges to initiate the talks in the vexed matter.
The Supreme Court had on Tuesday suggested an out-of-court settlement of the lingering Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute at Ayodhya, observing that issues of "religion and sentiments" can be best resolved through talks.
Swamy was asked by the apex court to consult the parties and inform it about their decision on amicable resolution of the matter on March 31.
Mahant Ram Das, chief priest of Nirmohi Akhara and the main claimant to the title over the disputed land, reacted sharply over Swamy's appointment as the "mediator" in the case.
"Negotiation talks must be done under the Constitutional framework and no political interference should be allowed. Swami is a political man. The Supreme Court must constitute a panel of retired judges or serving judges to initiate the talks with parties concerned. We do not want any political interference," he said.
Swami Chakrapani, president of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, also questioned the involvement of Swamy in the matter.
"The Supreme Court must form a panel of judges to negotiate. No politicians should to allowed to interfere in this sensitive issue. The negotiation should have only one agenda that no party should feel defeated," he said.
Khaliq Ahmad Khan from Maulana Mahfuzurrahma said, "Swamy is an interested party in the case. How can talks be held with someone, who is himself party to the case?"
"The negotiations can be done with a person who is 'neutral' and has knowledge of the case and the legal framework. It would be better if the Supreme Court constitute a panel of retired or serving judges to initiate the talks.
The negotiation process held in the past must also be reviewed," he added.
Meanwhile, Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Triloki Nath Pandey from Ram Lalla, refused to comment on the role of Swamy in the negotiation.
"We are ready to talk on this issue, but we will not allow any Masjid (mosque) to be built near the Ram Mandir. If Muslims are giving up their claim over the disputed land, they are welcome for talks," he said.
Iqbal Ansari, son of Hasim Ansari (deceased main litigant in the case) and now a party to the case in place of his father, said, "We believe in the authority of the Supreme Court. Involvement of politicians like Subramanian Swamy will take the talks in negative direction."
The Lucknow bench of Allahabad high court had in 2010 ruled for a three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acre plot where the Babri Masjid stood before its demolition.
The three-judge bench, by a 2:1 majority, had said the land be partitioned equally among three parties, Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.