Ayodhya Dispute: Can Modi Succeed Where PV Failed?


New Delhi: What the Supreme Court said on Tuesday on the desirability of resolving Ayodhya Ram Mandir dispute outside the court through mediation was tried by former Prime Ministers Chandra Sekhar and PV Narasimha Rao in 1992. While Chandra Sekhar’s government was short lived, PV’s attempt was foiled by the BJP which was bent upon felling the disputed structure, Babri Masjid.

Go back by 15 years and read the old newspapers. The then prime minister PV Narasimha Rao had negotiations with heads of Hindu shrines, matts and Islamic religious scholars. He employed Tantrik Chandra Swamy, Media Advisor and IAS officer PVRK Prasad who met several Sankar Acharyas and many other Hindu religious leaders.

The Chief Minister of UP at that time was Kalyan Singh who promised to the prime minister that no untoward incidents would be allowed to happen. He told the court also that no harm would be done to the disputed structure. When it was announced that Kar sevaks will  be gathering at Ayodhya in large numbers, the government of India has sent para-military forces and kept them ready to be deployed as desired by the chief minister. But Kalyan Singh did not make use of them. The Union Government approached the Supreme Court requesting for extraordinary powers to intervene in the matter. But the apex court has refused to grant the request of the union government and,instead, appointed an observer to monitor developments at Ayodhya. The Karsevaks pulled the mosque down with the Union Government watching helplessly. It was a known fact that the top BJP leadership and Hindutva forces, beside UP government, were part of a big conspiracy.  Soon after the Babri Masjid was felled, the Union Government had dismissed four BJP governments in UP, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh. While UP government was dismissed immediately after the demolition of Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992, the three other state governments were sacked on December 15. Opposition leader Atal Behari Vajpayee described the decision as a mortal blow to democracy.

Had the BJP given a reasonable time to the then central government to try negotiation process to resolve the dispute, history would have been different.  But it is now an irreversible part of history that the Babri Masjid was demolished, BJP has improved its electoral performance and PV was thrown into political dustbin by Sonia Gandhi and the Congress Party making him responsible for the destruction of the mosque. It was intended to appease Muslims by blaming PV and making him a scape goat instead of taking on the BJP for its mischief in demolition of Babri Masjid.

Now that the same BJP, which foiled an attempt to settle the dispute amicably through mediation when it was in opposition, is in power both in Delhi and Lucknow, it should be possible to hold negotiations with Muslim Personal Law Board representatives and other parties to the dispute. If at all a problem of this nature has to be resolved through mediation, it has to be now when BJP is in power. The suggestion given by the Chief Justice of India can be treated as a last opportunity to solve the dispute failing which the apex court will have to take the call.

But the fact of the matter is that the dispute can never be resolved through negotiations for the same reason cited by the highest court of the land- it is a sentimental and emotional issue. That is why the apex court has to take the responsibility and give a decision considering all the aspects. The political parties and religious organisations have to prepare all sections of the society to accept the decision of the SC bench. That is the only way out.

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