Cong bid to check Advani, Mulayam

In a move to check BJP leader L.K. Advani and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav from cashing in on the Ayodhya verdict, the Congress Working Committee on Tuesday cautioned that any distortion of the Allahabad high court verdict by communal forces would harm the nation.

Tuesday’s CWC meet was the first after the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court verdict on the Ayodhya title suits. The Congress’ highest decision-making body has now been converted into a steering committee following Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s re-election as Congress chief.
It was called specially to check players in the mandir-masjid controversy wanting to draw political mileage from the issue once again. “Any distortion of the verdict by communal forces is detrimental to the larger national interest and will cause harm to the nation’s mood and desire for peace and harmony,” the CWC said. It added that it would welcome efforts for a negotiated settlement of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute. “It is important to underline that the verdict in no way condones the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, which was a shameful and criminal act, for which the perpetrators must be brought to justice,” the CWC said.
The nearly two-hour meet at AICC headquarters was held to review the situation after the Ayodhya verdict and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Mrs Gandhi presided over the meeting, which was attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and others.
About 11 members deliberated on the Ayodhya issue against the backdrop of the BJP, Mr Advani and Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav’s attempts to interpret the verdict conveniently. The CWC members were said to have criticised Mr Advani, Mr Mulayam Singh and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav for their post-verdict statements.
Home minister P. Chidambaram gave feedback on the reaction of the minorities after the judgment. If sources are to be believed, he told the meeting that the minorities in Uttar Pradesh were unhappy with the judgment. But party officials made it clear that nobody at the meeting discussed the political bearing of the judgment on UP and Bihar.
Mr Rahul Gandhi, Mr A.K. Antony, Mr Digvijay Singh, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mr Arjun Singh, Mr G. Venkatswamy and Mr Prithviraj Chavan could not attend the meeting. After the meeting, AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told reporters that while the party would welcome any initiative for a peaceful solution to the problem through negotiations, it would not take any initiative on its own.
He added that the party would not like to make any “value judgment” on the high court’s verdict. “It’s a high court judgment and everyone should respect and honour it,” he said.
The CWC said, “The Indian National Congress respects the judicial process with regard to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suits. However, we must now await the final decision of the Supreme Court as and when the appeal is filed. In the meantime, the Congress welcomes efforts by the parties concerned with the litigation to find an amicable and peaceful settlement.”
Sources said there was unease in some Congress sections after the verdict. They empathise with the Muslim community in which there is some disquiet on the verdict while the BJP may stand to cash in on the sentiments of Hindu polarisation.
Apart from Mrs Gandhi, a total of 11 party leaders, including Mr R.K. Dhawan, Mr Satyavrat Chaturvedi and Mr K. Keshava Rao and Union ministers Pranab Mukherjee and Ambika Soni participated in the deliberations.

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