There will be relief all round at the peaceful completion of the VHP’s conclave in New Delhi. In contrast to their behaviour last year, when the leaders of the organisation set deadlines for temple construction and threatened agitations and even suicides, they have displayed considerable good sense this year.
This sudden toning down of the VHP’s customary aggressive conduct must have required a great deal of backstage parleys. The climbdown may seem all the more surprising since Ashok Singhal claimed just before the VHP’s conference that laser technology has located a temple beneath the demolished Babri masjid — a ‘discovery’ which was echoed by the Prime Minister in one of his election speeches in Himachal Pradesh. Besides, the VHP’s contribution to the BJP’s success in Gujarat was expected to embolden the former to step up its demand.
Given the mysterious nature of the Sangh parivar’s internal politics, in which political and religious calculations play as big a part as personal likes and dislikes, it is not easy to explain the VHP’s restraint. It is possible that the crucial elections in this year and the next have persuaded the VHP to soft-pedal the issue. After all, it knows that a weak BJP will be an even greater hindrance to its ‘cause’ than a hesitant BJP.
Whatever the reason, the current respite provides an excellent opportunity to all concerned to look at the problem in as clear-sighted a manner as possible. Since a negotiated settlement does not seem feasible, a judicial verdict remains the only way out. But the judiciary can’t be hustled in the manner in which the Centre has been trying — by seeking a pronouncement on the undisputed portion of the land under litigation. Instead, the focus should be on shunning the agitational approach. If the VHP has realised this, it’s a good sign.