“None of the main parties is interested in exploring a negotiated settlement”
Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal on Thursday cried foul at the Supreme Court's decision to stay the delivery of the Ayodhya verdict on Friday by the Special Bench of the Allahabad High Court based in Lucknow, but stopped short of directly alleging that the government was behind this.
The BJP spokesperson was silent on the issue that defined the party's “core ideology” for almost a decade. “We will wait for the verdict before commenting,” was the party line, but it was left entirely to Mr. Singhal to articulate the sangh parivar's position on the stay on the verdict.
Although Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat has asked all senior BJP leaders to remain in Delhi so that they can be available for consultations at short notice, for the moment it was silence from the Jhandewalan headquarters too for, the sangh has decided to let the ‘sants' lead from the front.
Seated next to the former general secretary of the VHP, Pravin Togadia, at a press conference, Mr. Singhal categorically ruled out exploring a negotiated settlement once again at this stage, adding none of the main parties to the suit was interested in this when a judicial verdict was ready to be delivered in the 60-year-old dispute.
“Who is this litigant who wants the verdict delayed? Who is this [Ramesh Chandra Tripathi] non-entity? After impleading himself in the case in 1969, nobody saw his face in the court all these years. He is a non-entity. Clearly, there is a big force behind him,” Mr. Singhal said, reiterating that the Sunni Wakf Board had said that it did not want the verdict delayed and did not want negotiations at this stage. “Who will negotiate when the main parties to the suit do not want talks?”
He went on: “Even today [Thursday] the main litigants made it clear in the court they do not want to discuss or negotiate the dispute … that has been tried unsuccessfully four times earlier ... this delay, this is all the work of the government (yeh sab sarkar ka kaam hai).” Did he mean that the government had “prompted” the Supreme Court to stay the Ayodhya verdict, he was asked. Mr. Singhal retracted, saying he was referring to the “government's job” to give an extension to the judge (Mr. Justice D.V. Sharma) on the Special Bench in Lucknow if the verdict was to be held back for a few weeks beyond September 30, last working day of Mr. Justice Sharma before retirement.
The final word
The final word on the Ayodhya issue will be that of the high-power committee of ‘sants' who are meeting on Friday morning. They will make known their decision by evening. The Jyotishpeeth Shankaracharya, Vasudevanand Saraswati, will be here as also Nritya Gopal Das from Ayodhya and Vishwadevanand from Gujarat. “They will give direction to the entire country,” Mr. Singhal said.
Nevertheless, the VHP leader gave reporters a peep into what their decision may be. “There is anger that a joke is being made of the sentiments of crores of people for whom it is a matter of deep faith,” Mr. Singhal said echoing his own words ahead of the fateful December 6, 1992 ‘kar-sewa' at Ayodhya when anger stemming from a delayed judicial verdict was the excuse given for the destruction of the 16th century mosque.
The “reason” offered in the weeks ahead of December 6, 1992 was that the “patience” of ‘Ram bhakts' had run out and that the Narasimha Rao regime was to blame for not “ensuring” an early judicial pronouncement on a petition questioning the acquisition of the disputed site by the Uttar Pradesh government of the time for “development of facilities for pilgrims.”
Mr. Singhal said: “It was the Supreme Court which had earlier asked the Allahabad High Court to expedite the Ayodhya case through daily hearings. Now they have delayed the verdict. The results of this delay will not be good. Delayed justice is justice denied. They have given a dhakka [a jolt] to the entire country… those behind this delay will suffer as did others who hatched similar conspiracies of delay in the past.”