NATIONAL

Agnivesh wants PM to stop VHP rally

CHENNAI OCT. 10. "The Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, must take full responsibility to ensure that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) does not take out a rally from Lucknow to Ayodhya on October 17," Swami Agnivesh of the Adhyatma Jagran Manch (movement for spiritual awakening) said.

Swami Agnivesh, who is in the city to attend a conference on "Human Rights and Development", alleged that the VHP and the BJP were planning to extract political mileage out of the rally. "The Mulayam Singh-led Uttar Pradesh Government will be forced to react if there were any disturbances in the rally, and the BJP will try to use that to discredit the new Government. And after that politics will take over the issue and use it to garner votes in the coming elections in five States," he said in an interview to The Hindu.

He pointed out that the local leaders of Ayodhya have already opposed the rally fearing law and order problems. "The Prime Minister must take the lead in ensuring that the rally does not take place".

Communal riots might not have hit the Southern States such as Tamil Nadu to the extent they had in other States, but that did not mean that they were immune to communal tension, he said.

His reading of the situation in the South was that it was fragile.