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"No Point Making It An Election Issue"

T. Narayan
"No Point Making It An Election Issue"
The RSS is solidly behind the BJP decision not to rake up Ayodhya in the forthcoming assembly elections. Its spokesperson, Ram Madhav, explains to Outlook why it is important, at least for the time being, not to rekindle the issue. Excerpts:

The VHP and the BJP seem united on Ayodhya. At the same time, some VHP leaders attack the BJP for not being serious on the temple front. Is it part of a Sangh design to keep the electorate confused in the assembly polls?
There is no design. There has been a slight difference in perception between the VHP and BJP over Ayodhya. The BJP is part of a coalition government. It has to keep the sentiments of other parties (members of the nda) in mind before it takes any action on issues close to its heart. The VHP, on the other hand, is not a political party. So, their leaders don't mince words when it comes to talking about emotional issues. But the VHP has been quiet for some time now.

Is it because Ayodhya doesn't fetch electoral dividends any more?
There is no question of thinking in terms of dividends or losses. The BJP is bound by limitations of coalition politics. Whether the temple will be built will depend on how much popular pressure can be exerted on the government. We are working towards building that pressure. Unless that pressure is substantial, the BJP cannot take arbitrary action.

Do you then agree there is no popular support for the temple movement?
It is true the assembly elections will not see a great deal of discussion on Ayodhya. They will be fought mostly on local issues. You see, every movement reaches a peak and then there is a cooling off. We have to again generate the same degree of support before the government of the day can be forced to take action. The success of our movement is that every political party now agrees that there should be a negotiated settlement. So, we will work towards that. What is the point of making it an election issue? Let us all sit together and resolve it.

Will those kar sevaks, who made sacrifices for the movement, have to wait for a politically convenient moment for the BJP to build the temple?
It is not a matter of what is politically convenient. It is a question of how amicably and democratically one can resolve an issue. We have already succeeded in creating an atmosphere for talks. Things will proceed from there.

At the time of the rath yatra, the BJP and Sangh leaders publicly expressed disregard for the courts, state administration and other democratic institutions. How have you suddenly acquired such respect for democracy?
The purpose is to build the temple at Ayodhya. If a negotiated settlement is the way to do it, then we will follow that path. Why should we unnecessarily take to the streets when there are more amicable ways of fulfilling the desire of the people.
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