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Ayodhya row: Parties welcome SC’s advice, Muslim bodies sceptical

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

Political parties, including the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the principal Opposition Congress, broadly welcomed the Supreme Court's suggestion on Tuesday for an amicable out-of-court settlement of the long-pending Ayodhya's Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi land dispute through talks.

The BJP-led central government also welcomed the apex court's suggestion for resolving the Ayodhya tangle–lingering for nearly three decade–through dialogue between the aggrieved parties.

Veteran BJP leader L K Advani, who was the face of his party's Ram Janmabhoomi campaign across the country in 1990s that catapulted it to power at the Centre, also welcomed the Supreme Court's suggestion, reportedly hoping that "in light of the apex court's advise, all concerned parties will reach consensus and will find a solution to resolve the Ram Temple issue".

A slew of other BJP ministers and leaders, including new Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, also reportedly welcomed the suggestion given by an apex court bench headed by the Chief Justice of India J S Khehar. Adityanath assured cooperation from his government in resolving the Ayodhya issue. 

"The Supreme Court has called for an out-of-court settlement between the aggrieved parties. The parties should resolve the issue amicably by talking to each other. We welcome this step and I believe they should have talks outside the court," the BJP spokesman Sambit Patra told reporters. He said the BJP will study in detail the apex court's observations, asserting that the issue is related to the faith and sentiments of millions of people.

Former Bajrang Dal leader and current BJP MP, Vinay Katiyar also welcomed the apex court's suggestion, even as another Ram Janmabhoomi campaign's leading figure, the Union minister Uma Bharti, demanded construction of Ram Temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. 

Union Minister of State for Law and Justice P P Chaudhary said the government also favours talks to resolve the Ayodhya dispute, welcoming the Supreme Court's suggestion. 

"What mediation can do, cannot be done by judgement. Both the parties are happy in case of mediation but in case of judgement, one party is happy while the other is not," he said. "The matter is in the court. Nothing can be done until the Supreme Court gives the verdict. Now Supreme Court has said that solve it through negotiation. I feel that it would be solved through negotiation." 

The Congress also welcomed the apex court's suggestion, asserting that if both parties to this dispute could resolve the Ayodhya issue through negotiations and consensus, then it will be the "best way" to ensure peace  and social harmony in the country. 

"Otherwise, the court is competent to give its decision on the issue after hearing the pleas of both sides," the Congress's chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala said, adding that dialogue and goodwill have always been the cornerstone of India's pluralistic culture. 

Hitting out at the BJP without naming the party, Mr Surjewala also alleged that the ruling camp has been exploiting the Ayodhya issue for 25 years to create social strife in a bid to grab power. 

Various leading Muslim organisations appeared to be sceptical about the apex court's suggestion, highlighting that several such attempts made earlier by highest levels to resolve the Ayodhya dispute through talks had proved to be unsuccessful. Their position was, let the apex court decide the matter once and for all.   

Zafaryab Jilani of the Babri Masjid Action Committee said that going by the past experience the Ayodhya dispute could not be settled outside the court. He said, "We are ready with Chief Justice (of India) mediating… We trust him. We are also ready if he nominates a team…But out of court settlement is not possible."