Thursday, Feb 28, 2002
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NEW DELHI, FEB. 27. As riots erupted in Gujarat, the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, made a desperate but unsuccessful attempt to get the Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders to withdraw their call to gather ``Ram bhakts'' at Ayodhya and start construction of a temple on March 15.
After an hour-long meeting with Mr. Vajpayee, senior VHP leaders virtually rejected his appeal and said he should speak to the ``sants'' who had fixed the Ayodhya programme.
Later, Mr. Vajpayee called the Bharatiya Janata Party president, Jana Krishnamurthi, for a meeting to discuss a suggestion from some very senior BJP leaders in Government and outside that the party should immediately issue an appeal to all its members not to join the so-called ``Ram bhakts'' in Ayodhya.
However, neither the appeals made by Mr. Vajpayee and the Union Home Minister, L.K. Advani, nor the shocking incident in Gujarat today and the eruption of communal violence in the State seem to have impressed the VHP.
While both the BJP and the VHP strongly condemned the violence let loose on slogan shouting ``kar sevaks'' and stated they suspected ``an ISI backed fundamentalist'' conspiracy to destabilise the Government, the VHP leaders also let it be known that this would not deter thousands more from joining the ongoing ``yagna'' in Ayodhya and the construction work that would follow.
The senior VHP leader, Acharya Giriraj Kishore, had this to say: ``Revered sants had met the Prime Minister on January 27 and asked him to hand over the acquired land in Ayodhya to the Ram Janmabhoomi Trust so that we could begin building the temple peacefully. But the Prime Minister refused and that led the sants to decide on a date to start the construction. The VHP cannot change the dates.''
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