NATIONAL

Attack an assault on Hindu faith: BJP

Laxity on the part of Government: Jaswant

Neena Vyas

NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party has described the attack in Ayodhya as "an assault on Hindu faith" and alleged that over the last one year the United Progressive Alliance Government had demonstrated "softness towards terrorism" and a "certain mindset that no one need bother about Hindu feelings".

Demanding the resignation of Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Uttar Pradesh Home Minister (the portfolio is held by Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav), the party has called for nationwide protests in the next few days.

It has also given a call for a total `bandh' in five States — Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Jharkhand and Orissa (where its coalition partner is in power). Gujarat had been excluded because of the flood situation, party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.

BJP chief L.K. Advani has despatched the former Chief Ministers, Rajnath Singh and Kalyan Singh, to Ayodhya. Senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi said he would go there on Wednesday. "Mr. Advani has no plans to go to Ayodhya tomorrow [Wednesday]," his secretary said after Mr. Advani reached here this evening from Guwahati.

The former BJP chief of Uttar Pradesh, Vinay Katiyar, told The Hindu over telephone that he was heading for Ayodhya and that he had "some information for about a week now" that an attack was being planned on the temple as also an attack on him, as his residence was very near the temple.

Jaswant presides over meet

Briefing reporters after an emergency meeting of senior leaders, the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Jaswant Singh, said the attack was an "assault on Hindu faith (hindu astha par hamla)" because the makeshift Ram Lalla temple was "not just any temple" but a symbol of "Hindu faith, beliefs and commitment".

Mr. Singh said the incident should not be compared with the terrorist attack on Parliament House and Akshardham temple during the National Democratic Alliance rule .

The reason he gave was that "the security of Parliament has always been the total responsibility of the Speaker" and as for Akshardham, its significance was "not the same as Ayodhya" and "it was not a highly protected place."

Parliament, he added, was "the temple of democracy" but Ram Janmabhoomi was "the temple of faith".

Will the BJP use the opportunity to revive the Ram temple movement? Mr. Singh said: "The BJP has no intention ... the party has always remained committed to building the Ram temple, which must be built by talking to all concerned ... but if people are provoked emotionally then a law and order situation is created."

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