‘Constitution does not allow an ordinance on Ram temple’

Union Minister and LJP president says his stand always has been that the Supreme Court’s decision on the issue will be final and should be acceptable to all
Union Minister and Lok Jan Shakti Party president Ram Vilas Paswan completes 50 years in Indian politics, having served in the Cabinets of six Prime Ministers and eight terms in the Lok Sabha. He talks to The Hindu on his career, Ram Mandir and the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
You have worked with six PMs. If we were to keep out Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will you list as your favourite Prime Minister?
I would pick V.P. Singh. He was a man of ideology. He had a short term of just 11 months in the Prime Minister’s Office, but in that short time, he did significant things for all classes from Scheduled Castes and OBCs to minorities. My second favourite would be H.D. Deve Gowda. I never had a close relation with him before I joined his Cabinet. In fact, I had no role in his elevation as Prime Minister and yet once I started working in his Cabinet, the trust that he bestowed on me was unparalleled. I still share a warm relation with him.
You are called the weather vane of politics. Do you see change in the winds, especially in view of the Assembly polls in three BJP-ruled States — Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan — where there is a visible demand for change?
I do not go into miniscule details. Instead of ifs, buts, plus, minus and so on, I believe in overall calculations. The tally may reduce in some States but it will be made up by an increase in other States. On the balance, I believe the NDA government will come back to power in 2019. And the primary reason for it is that the country has no alternative. Despite everything, where can the people possibly go? There is no other prime ministerial face visible. And the voters want the country to be led by a strong personality. History will be my witness in this. Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency and yet the country voted her back because they saw that the Janata Party government failed to give them a stable government.
In one of your speeches in Parliament, you said you were an atheist and Muslims were important constituents of the Lok Jan Shakti Party. Keeping this in mind, doesn’t this frenzy that is being whipped up once more around Ram Mandir make you uncomfortable?
Let me tell you categorically today that nothing will happen in this matter. The government does not belong to either Hindus or Muslims alone. The Prime Minister does not belong to the NDA or the UPA alone. The first thing every Prime Minister has to do is to take an oath swearing that the Parliament will be his temple and the Constitution his religion. The Constitution does not allow an ordinance. My stand always has been that the Supreme Court’s decision will be final and should be acceptable to all. And I believe that it is not just the Vishwa Hindu Parishad which is responsible for this frenzy. All of us share some of the responsibility. When L.K. Advani started his Rath Yatra with the Narasimha Rao government in the Centre, the government decided that it should take hold of the disputed land. And an ordinance was brought out to bring the disputed land under the Union government’s jurisdiction. And you will be surprised to know that both the Babri Masjid committee and the RSS protested. The protests were so intense that the government had to withdraw the ordinance. The results are for every one to see. Today, I do not feel uncomfortable, because the government has not spoken out of line on this issue. The BJP may take a certain line since they are in competition with the VHP, the Bajrang Dal, the Shiv Sena and so on. But the issue is not discussed in Cabinet meetings. Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has not spoken in support of it. There is speculation that as part of the seat-sharing arrangement in Bihar, the BJP will give the LJP one Rajya Sabha seat and that you may opt out of the Lok Sabha election to take this seat. Are you considering retirement from active politics?
There is no question of retiring from active politics. I have been struggling since 1969. Now at this stage of my life, I want to work more for my party to expand it beyond Bihar. When you are in an alliance, you have to abide by the coalition dharma. I can never speak freely. In fact, after joining the NDA, the LJP has fought far fewer elections in various States. I cannot remain with the NDA and yet fight against it in other States. But I think the LJP should have fought many of these elections.
So will the LJP fight as a BJP ally or strike out on its own in 2019?
No, we will remain with the BJP for the 2019 polls. There is no space for doubt here.
Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/constitution-does-not-allow-an-ordinance-on-ram-temple/article25667159.ece

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