17. Malhotra's statement on Ayodhya annoys Chavan
New Delhi, 21 November 1995
17. Malhotra’s statement on Ayodhya annoys Chavan
Express News Service
NEW DELHI, November 20 - The demolition of the disputed Ayodhya structure once again created ripples in the meeting of Parliament’s Consultative Committee attached to the Home Ministry here today.
The Bharatiya Janata Party MP, Mr. Vijay Kumar Malhotra, asserted that he regarded the demolition of the disputed structure as a matter of national pride. This elicited a sharp, albeit belated, reaction from the Home Minister, Mr. S.B. Chavan, who warned that if some forces were determined to say that they took pride in the demolition of religious places, the Government was equally determined to see that these forces did not succeed.
Mr. Malhotra intervened after some members, including Mr. Somnath Chatterjee (CPI-M) and Mr. Makhan Lal Fotedar (breakaway Congress faction), described the demolition as a national shame.1
Mr. Fotedar was critical of the Prime Minister, Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao. He stated that Mr. Rao should have owned up the responsibility for the demolition, resigned and apologised to the nation.
At this juncture, the Congress members, Mr. Pawan Kumar Bansal, and Mr. V. Narayanaswamy, joined the issue with Mr. Fotedar and told him he was no less responsible for lapse, if any, as he was a member of the Union Cabinet at that time!
Mr. Malhotra’s intervention took Mr. Chavan by surprise. The Home Minister asked Mr. Malhotra whether he believed what he had said. The BJP member said that he stood by his assertion as, in his view, a symbol of national slavery had been erased.
The Home Minister reserved his warning that the forces out to destroy the religious places would not be allowed to succeed for his concluding remarks. Mr. Malhotra had gone away by then.
Interestingly, the BJP chief, Mr. L.K. Advani, and his senior party colleague, Mr. Sikander Bakht, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, both were not present when Mr. Malhotra made his remark. Mr. Advani put in a brief appearance and did not speak at all!
The meeting was called to discuss the latest situation in Varanasi arising out of the Gyanvapi mosque-Vishwanath Temple dispute and the general communal scenario in the country.
Vijay Kumar Malhotra is certainly a brave man who has had the courage to say publicly what most people in the Sangh Parivar, except the likes of Atal Behari Vajpayee, believe and say privately. ↩