Amid news that the Supreme Court will take up the Ayodhya case again on January 4, as well as the ongoing politics over the issue, Republic TV has accessed a 1994 affidavit by the then PV Narasimha Rao-led government where it says that the government (of the time) was "committed to enforce a solution" in the Ayodhya matter in the event that a negotiated settlement doesn't come to pass, and that the solution would be dependent on whether or not evidence was found that a temple complex had existed at the Babri Masjid site.
"Government stands by the policy of secularism and of even-handed treatment of all religious communities. The acquisition of certain area at Ayodhya Act 1993 as well as the Presidential reference, have the objective of maintaining public order and promoting communal harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst the people of India."
"Government is committed to the construction of a Ram temple and a mosque, but their actual location will be determined only after the Supreme Court renders its opinion in the Presidential reference."
"Government will treat the finding of the Supreme Court on the question of fact referred under Article 143 of the Constitution as a verdict which is final and binding."
"In the light of the Supreme Court's opinion and consistent with it, Government will make efforts to resolve the controversy by a process of negotiations. Government is confident that the opinion of the Supreme Court will have a salutary effect on the attitudes of the communities and they will no longer take conflicting positions on the factual issue settled by the Supreme Court."
"If efforts at a negotiated settlement as aforesaid do not succeed, Government is committed to enforce a solution in the light of the Supreme Court's opinion and consistent with it. Government's action in this regard will be even-handed in respect of both communities. If the question referred is answered in the affirmative, namely, that a Hindu temple/structure did exist prior to the construction of the demolished structure, Government action will be in support of the wishes of the Hindu community. If, on the other hand, the question is answered in the negative, namely that no such Hindu temple/structure existed at the relevant time, then government action will be in support of the wishes of the Muslim community."
The final paragraph is clearly the most revealing. In the years since then, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) held that there was indeed a massive Hindu temple complex at the Babri Masjid site.
Elaborating on the affidavit, BJP MP Dr Subramanian Swamy who was a minister in the Narasimha Rao-led government at the time, said that the affidavit was filed after the Supreme Court asked the government for its solution. He also put it into the context of recent developments, including his interaction with Hindu seers at Rajkot over the weekend where BJP party president Amit Shah was also present:
"Narendra Modi doesn't have to seek the permission of the Supreme Court. He can declare that he has given the land to the VHP to build a temple, so the road is clear. The fight in the SC is for the title. And the SC constitution bench said that a Masjid isn't an essential part of Islamic religion - it can be broken, it can be shifted. So we can give them another plot. But in this plot, because we had found there is a pre-existing structure, build the temple!", Dr Swamy said.
The Ayodhya title suit dispute will be taken up again by the Supreme Court again on January 4 when the bench that will hear the case will be decided. Earlier, the apex court had deprioritised the matter, as a result of which clamour began for the Modi government to take a legislative route to construct the Ram Temple, including perhaps an ordinance. The Shiv Sena has piled pressure on its (current) ally the BJP in the matter, demanding that the construction of the Ram Mandir begin before the party seeks the mandate of the people again in 2019, given that it was a 2014 election manifesto promise.
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