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NDA prefers negotiated settlement on Ayodhya

Tuesday 16 November 2004, by PARSAI*Gargi

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Shanker Chakravarty
L.K. Advani, George Fernandes, Jaswant Singh and the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, at an NDA meeting in New Delhi on Monday.

NEW DELHI, NOV. 15 . In what appears to be a shift in its stand, the National Democratic Alliance said today that it "preferred" a negotiated settlement of the Ayodhya imbroglio "considering the delays inherent in our judicial process."

Till now, the NDA had maintained that the Ayodhya issue should be resolved through either a court order or a dialogue.

A meeting of the alliance partners, presided over by the NDA chairman, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, also expressed concern at the treatment meted out to the Kanchi Sankaracharya, Sri Jayendra Saraswathi, who is charged with involvement in a murder case. The NDA convener, George Fernandes, is visiting Chennai tomorrow "and wherever I have to go" to meet the Sankaracharya. He has no plans, though, to meet the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa. Sources indicated that this decision was taken outside of the NDA meeting.

Acceptance of BJP line?

The NDA meeting convened to "clear the misunderstanding created by the media" — following the BJP president, L.K. Advani’s recent remarks on the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya — unanimously adopted a resolution seeking intensified steps towards a serious and meaningful dialogue. According to political observers, the unanimous adoption of the resolution and the NDA stand on the Sankaracharya, signal an acceptance of the BJP line by the alliance partners.

"We continue to hold that the judiciary’s verdict in this matter [Ayodhya] must be accepted by all. At the same time, considering the delays inherent in our judicial processes, the NDA prefers a negotiated settlement through dialogue between the representatives of the Hindu and Muslim communities in an atmosphere of communal peace, mutual trust and goodwill," the resolution said.

It observed that "the solution to the Ayodhya issue, as well as the process of reaching it, should be such that it meets the aspirations of the majority community, the concerns of the minority community and the interests of national unity, integrity and communal harmony."

While welcoming moves to carry forward the process initiated by the NDA Government to normalise relations with Pakistan, the resolution said the recent statements by the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, and the External Affairs Minister, Natwar Singh, on the Jammu and Kashmir issues were at variance with the national consensus, as articulated in the resolution passed by all political parties unanimously in Parliament.

It criticised the UPA Government for the "steep rise" in the prices of essential commodities, inflation, the scaling down of the rate of GDP growth and failing to take effective steps to ameliorate the plight of the farmers and unemployed youth.

The meeting reiterated the NDA’s commitment to secularism: "The NDA is committed to strengthening the constitutional ideal of secularism as expounded by Mahatma Gandhi and other Indian seers, both ancient and modern, and as practised in the Indian civilisation for centuries...’’

The meeting resolved to "further strengthen the NDA" and presented itself as the only and the true alternative to the contradictions-ridden Congress-Communist combine "which is set to take the nation on a ruinous path."

Significantly, the resolution called upon all anti-Rashtriya Janata Dal forces in Bihar to unite to give effect to the people’s "keen desire" for a change in the coming Assembly elections.

’Stand unchanged’

Speaking to The Hindu after the meeting, the JD (U) leader, Sharad Yadav, said there was no shift in the NDA’s earlier stand on Ayodhya despite the wording of the resolution.

"There might be a section [of the BJP] which may want an early settlement of the Ayodhya dispute but the NDA stands by the common agenda which calls for resolution through court or dialogue."

The two-hour meeting was attended, among others, by Arjun Charan Sethi (BJD), S.S. Dhindsa (Akali Dal), Anant Geete (Shiv Sena), Dinesh Trivedi (Trinamool Congress), P.C. Thomas (IFDP), L.H. Mingliana (MNF), Sharad Joshi (Shetkari Sangathan), BJP leaders L.K. Advani, Venkaiah Naidu, Jaswant Singh, V.K. Malhotra and JD (U) leaders Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar.

Earlier, the meeting paid homage to the Palestine Liberation Organisation leader, Yasser Arafat.

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