NATIONAL

Mahajan for resolving Ayodhya dispute by April 2004

AURANGABAD (Maharashtra) Aug. 26. The two-day convention of the Maharashtra unit of the BJP ended here today with the party general secretary, Pramod Mahajan, appealing to Muslims not to dispute any more the Hindus' claim over the Ramjanmabhoomi and to pave the way for the construction of a temple there since the Archeological Survey of India had "found that a temple did exist at the site in Ayodhya".

He wanted the dispute to be settled on the basis of the ASI's findings before the next Ram Navmi (in April 2004) so that the construction of the temple could begin.

Sticking to the party's demand for President's Rule in Maharashtra, Mr. Mahajan said that the demand had been made not only because of the Sushilkumar Shinde Government's failure on the law and order front but also due to factors such as the indiscriminate transfers of police officers and corruption.

In a bid to insulate the Maharashtra BJP from the impact of the collapse of the BJP's alliance with Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh, he said the relation with the BSP was a political adjustment while the alliance with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra was an ideological bond based on the Hindutva plank.

In India, the world's largest democracy with over 60 crore voters, the BJP was the only party that had internal democracy, he claimed. The bane of democracy was that people did not forget the animosity of an election after that but that was not the case in the BJP. Mr. Mahajan appealed to partymen to stay united and not to be disheartened if they thought that their claim had been bypassed.

The convention, organised with an eye on the coming Assembly elections as well as next year's general polls, passed a resolution stating that the drought situation in Maharashtra was worse than the one faced in 1972 and alleged that the State Government had failed in combating it. Its demands are alternative employment for the drought-affected people, provision of drinking water and fodder and rescheduling of the farm loans besides 50 per cent concession in power bills of the farmers.

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