The Congress has rejected the BJP demand that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi apologise for the now withdrawn controversial affidavit that said there is no evidence of Lord Ram’s existence or of the Ram Setu being a man-made structure.
But on Friday it showed enough evidence of desperately trying to grapple with the political implications of the emotive issue as it changed its stance on the issue for the third successive day.
The CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury and CPI leaders supported the Centre’s move to withdraw the affidavit on the Sethusamundram project as it had hurt the religious sentiments of people. However, they also attacked the BJP for opposing the project on religious grounds and seeking punishment for those guilty of filing the affidavit.
The Congress-led government first filed the controversial affidavit. Then, Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj said that the affidavit would be withdrawn as Ram’s existence was a matter of faith and such matters cannot be debated or litigated.
On Friday, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) refused to enter into the debate of whether Ram was an article of faith.
“If we say anything, we run the risk of opening a Pandora’s Box. After all, the BJP’s entire campaign on the Ayodhya issue was based on the contention that people believed Ram was born at Ram Janmabhoomi,’’ a Congress leader said privately.
Congress leaders also said the three-month period sought from the court to set up a mechanism to discuss the issue is to “cool temperatures”.
But there could be a question mark over this in view of speculation of mid-term polls. A supplementary affidavit is expected to be filed next week.
AICC spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi sidestepped all queries on Ram’s existence: the affidavit was withdrawn as Ram’s existence was not an issue before the court. “To err is human, to rectify could perhaps be described as divine,’’ he said, ruling out an apology by the PM and Sonia who were not involved in filing the affidavit.