Welcomes out-of-court efforts at “amicable and peaceful settlement”

The Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Tuesday officially amended the party's position on the Allahabad High Court verdict in the Ayodhya case, underlining the fact that the judgment in no way condoned the demolition of the Babri Masjid and welcoming out-of-court efforts to find an “amicable and peaceful settlement.”

Congress sources told The Hindu that the shift — an attempt at taking a “balanced approach” — was a response to the increased aggression by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has begun to portray itself as the “winner” in the days since the September 30 verdict came in, as well as to the Muslim community's negative reaction to the judgment. A CWC member said: “On September 30, the BJP/Sangh Parivar response was muted. But in the days since, statements emanating from people like L.K. Advani claiming that the court verdict was a vindication of the Ramjanmabhoomi movement has made us rethink, and so you see a subtle difference in our position today.”

At Tuesday's meeting of the CWC (described currently as the Steering Committee, as the CWC has been dissolved pending fresh elections), a senior member stressed, sources said, that Muslim sentiment was hurt by the Congress “welcoming” the verdict on September 30. Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram reportedly responded by saying that was why he said at a press conference on October 1 that the verdict in no way condoned the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

Though the ongoing organisational elections, the party's plenary session (to be held before December 20), and the party's 125{+t}{+h} anniversary celebrations came up for discussion at the meeting, it was Kashmir and the aftermath of the Ayodhya verdict — especially the latter — that took centre stage. After discussing the issue threadbare, the Congress released a carefully calibrated “consensus” view.

The Congress “respects the judicial process with regard to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit,” while adding that “we must now await the final decision of the Supreme Court, as and when the appeal is filed.”

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