Party implies that Muslims must voluntarily give up claims to any portion of disputed land

It is becoming clearer by the day that when the Bharatiya Janata Party and the larger Sangh Parivar talk of “reconciliation” between Hindus and Muslims post-Ayodhya verdict, they simply mean that Muslims must voluntarily give up all claims to any portion of the disputed land on which the Babri Masjid stood till December 1992.

Within an hour of the verdict delivered by the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on September 30, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat said he wanted Muslims to forget the ill-will of the past and become “active collaborators in organising the necessary constitutional and practical means for building a magnificent temple” dedicated to Lord Ram.

The reference to the necessary “constitutional” and “practical” means for building a grand temple was as plain an indication as could be that Muslims should voluntarily relinquish the one-third portion of the disputed land in favour of the Hindu parties as that alone could make possible the construction of a “magnificent” temple.

Mr. Bhagwat's remarks have to be seen along with those made by the RSS's affiliate, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and the body of ‘sants' mentored by it, which openly stated that the temple must come up on all 70 acres of land acquired by the Centre, including the entire 2.77 acres of disputed land.

Asked whether he wanted Muslims to give up their portion, as how else could a grand temple be built, Mr. Bhagwat said it was for the ‘sants' to take a call on this. These ‘sants' had already announced that there was no need for any new mosque within the limits of Ayodhya.

Two days ago, in an interview to a television channel, BJP president Nitin Gadkari also spoke of the national mood for “reconciliation,” suggesting that Muslims could build a mosque “on the banks of the Sarayu river” that flows through Ayodhya.

The implication is that the mosque should not come up on the portion of land that the court awarded to the Sunni Waqf Board.

In various talk-fests on television channels, BJP leaders have studiously avoided directly saying Muslims must give up what has been awarded to them. They have also maintained a studied silence when asked whether they would approve of a mosque coming up on the one-third of the disputed land given to Muslims by the court.

The reasons they articulate in private are that for Muslims, Ayodhya is not a special place; since the disputed place has now been declared to be Lord Ram's ‘janmasthan,' Muslims should not complicate matters by insisting on building a mosque next to a temple that will come up; and finally, a temple and a mosque next to each other should be avoided for, that could cause trouble in the future.

On Monday, a senior BJP spokesperson was asked what he meant by “reconciliation” — did it mean a small step would have to be taken by both parties, or just that Muslims must show all the generosity and the wish for reconciliation? There was virtually no response, except that it was for those who sat down at the negotiating table to decide.

The spokesperson also suggested that ordinary Muslims wanted reconciliation (read want to surrender that right on the one-third disputed site) and that it was the “secularists” who wanted the conflict to continue.

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