The Ayodhya verdict was welcomed and greeted with a quiet sense of joy by the Bharatiya Janata Party and the larger sangh parivar headed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh here on Thursday as they felt it had paved the way for construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site, vindicating their long agitation on the issue.

But the parivar lost no time in indirectly saying Muslims should give up one-third of the disputed area over which the verdict has upheld their legal right.

On the face of it, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat talked about the need to see the verdict “not as a victory for one group or defeat for another, but an opportunity to forget ill-will and hard feelings that were the result of past conflicts.” But the almost direct appeal to Muslims to give up the one-third share of the disputed area given to them by the court could not be missed as he asked them to become “collaborators in organising the necessary constitutional and practical means” for building a grand Ram temple.

After a core committee meeting, the BJP asserted that the verdict, “which upholds the right of Hindus to construct a temple in the garbh griha [sanctum sanctorum] is a significant step … towards construction of a grand temple at the birthplace of Lord Ram.” It lauded the “expert opinion” that there were remains of a religious Hindu structure at the site where the Babri Masjid stood. The party believed the verdict would open a new chapter in national integration.

After the meeting, attended by party president Nitin Gadkari and other leaders including Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, L.K. Advani read out a statement. Murli Manohar Joshi said acceptance of the verdict by all would be a fitting reply to the “enemies of India.”

In the morning itself, RSS sources made it clear that Mr. Bhagwat would give the ‘line' of the sangh parivar and no one from the BJP or the VHP would speak before he did. That is exactly what happened. Pravin Togadia of the VHP spoke after Mr. Bhagwat and only later did the BJP go into a huddle before coming out with the statement, more or less echoing what Mr. Bhagwat had said.

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