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Ayodhya movement strengthened nationalism: Advani

Ayodhya movement strengthened nationalism: Advani

Publication: The Economic Times
Date: April 12, 2001
Introduction: A temple exists in Ayodhya since 51 years, Liberhan Commission told

Union home minister L K Advani, who developed Hindutva into a potent political tool, today forcefully defended the Ayodhya movement as one that strengthened the cause of nationalism and said the courts, too, recognised the de jure status of the temple.

Mr Advani, obviously backed by the judgement on the presidential reference upholding the acquisition of the disputed land, said the temple at Ayodhya has been a place of worship of the Hindus. It may be recalled that the Supreme Court had on October 24, '94, empowered the government to delegate a trust to manage the property and to enable Hindus to worship in the makeshift temple on the basis of "comparative user" principle - Muslims were praying less often than Hindus in the disputed structure before demolition.

Mr Advani told the Liberhan Commission that the temple exists at Ayodhya and that there was no need for any reconstruction. "From '50 to '01, namely for 51 years, what stands there is a temple. First, a de facto temple and today a temple which is de facto as well as de jure," Mr Advani said during his two-hour deposition before the commission.

"I have been pleading with the supporters of Ram Janambhoomi, who occasionally announce that from this date onwards we will start reconstruction of the temple, and telling them that at the Ram janmastan site there is nothing but a temple. This is not something that anyone else but the courts have decided ... The court's order is against changing the status quo. This is an order which in a way confers on the place recognition as not only a de facto temple but a de jure temple as well," Mr Advani said.

Quoting the Faizabad civil judge's order of '50, he said "from '36 onwards the Muslims have neither used the site as a mosque nor offered prayers there and. the Hindus have been performing the puja at the disputed site." He said "from '50 onwards it had not become any major issue so much the central government and the state government, both belonging to the Congress party, seemed to cooperate in the locks on the temple being removed and shilanyas" being performed." However, when the commission counsel asked how he could say that a "de jure" temple existed at the site and if he was legitimising demolition as a legal fait accompli, Mr Advani said so far as the courts are concerned, I am a humble citizen. I cannot at all contemplate presenting the courts a fait accompli. What I have in mind are various organisations and political parties, who were part of this dispute all along prior to '92 - even they thought it was a temple by virtue of a court injunction."

Mr Advani said the superstructure was that of a mosque and he regarded it as significant that even the government in its white paper did not refer to it as a mandir or a mosque but only as a disputed structure. Mr Advani said after the demolition of the disputed structure on December 6, '92, the first reaction of several organisations and political parties was that "we shall rebuild the mosque."

"I regard it significant that subsequently there have been elections in '96, '98, '99 apart from elections in Uttar Pradesh but no political party has ever spoken of rebuilding the mosque,' he said.

This showed that by and large it had come to be accepted that on the place believed to be the birth place of Ram, there was only a temple, he said. Defending the use of the word "de jure temple", he said "therefore, I used the word somewhat loosely of describing it also as a de jure temple. I would like to emphasise again that I am not using this phrase as against the possibility of courts deciding something else finally in that regard."

He said despite the Congress government allowing opening of the locks of the disputed structure and performance of 'shilanyas', the problem began when some section of the Indian population thought it proper to set up Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC). "While on the one hand the site was important for Hindus as it was believed to be the birth place of Ram, the opponents of the movement chose to give importance to the idea that the mosque was built by Babur," he said. "This is what I think is wrong. This is the basis of which I wrote you are pitting Babur against Ram," Mr Advani said explaining why he chose to write an article using such an expression.

Asked whether he subscribed to an idea floated by certain sections that those who did not believe in Ram should leave the country, Mr Advani said he could not justify or condone anyone saying this as it was "absurd and preposterous". When the commission counsel drew his attention to press reports about "provocative speeches" given by Pramod Mahajan while accompanying him during rath yatra in '90, he said whenever he heard anyone accompanying him of speaking in that language, he would always tell them that it was not done. I do not remember a single incident where I had to ask Pramod Mahajan not to use such kind of language,' he said.

However, he said once Mr Mahajan commented that "yeh Ram ka rath hai, Ram ka teer hai, aur Ayodhya tak pahunch kar hi rookega." I said in that meeting itself that it is only a Toyota vehicle converted into a rath. And so far as my reaching Ayodhya is concerned, it very much depended on authorities. They may stop me anywhere, he said that adding he remembered this because some people had suggested to him not to downplay the importance of the rath.

Mr Advani's deposition would continue on May 14 and 15.

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