The main parties in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case on Thursday demanded that a panel of Supreme Court judges be established to negotiate talks to settle the dispute out of court, reported PTI. They outright rejected having Bharatiya Janata Paraty leader Subramanian Swamy act as the mediator, arguing that no political interference should be allowed in the case.

Nirmohi Akhara’s chief priest Mahant Ram Das, who is also the main claimant to the title over the disputed land in Ayodhya, said negotiations should be held under the Constitutional framework sans any political interference. “Swamy is a political man. The Supreme Court must constitute a panel of retired judges or serving judges to initiate the talks with parties concerned,” he told PTI.

Similarly, the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha also objected to Swamy being made a mediator. Its chief Chakrapani said, “No politicians should be allowed to interfere in this sensitive issue. The negotiation should have only one agenda that no party should feel defeated.”

Moreover, Khaliq Ahmad Khan of the Maulana Mahfuzurrahma pointed out that the BJP leader himself was party to the case. “Negotiations should be done by a person who is ‘neutral’ and has knowledge of the case and the legal framework,” he added.

Iqbal Ansari, son of the oldest litigant in the case Hashim Ansari, fears that Swamy’s involvement will lead the negotiations “in a negative direction”. Hashim Ansari died in July last year. The Ram Lalla camp has refused to comment on the proposed negotiations.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had suggested resolving the long-standing dispute outside court. While hearing an urgent plea filed by Swamy to take up the matter that has been pending for the past six years, the bench had asked the veteran BJP leader to mediate the talks among the parties concerned. The court told Swamy to inform the bench about the developments in the negotiations on or before March 31.

UP government’s online poll:

The Uttar Pradesh government appears to have launched an online poll seeking public opinion on the dispute. The poll asks how people would like the row settled and provides four options to choose from. So far, nearly 79% of the respondents have voted in favour of building the Ram temple at the disputed site and have the masjid built elsewhere. “This platform gives a chance to the general public to express their opinion on the subject, which shall be helpful in creating a consensus to resolve this issue,” the website says.

The Ayodhya dispute traces back to 1948. On September 30, 2010, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court divided the site where the Babri Masjid once stood into three – two parts for Hindus and the third for the Sunni Central Waqf Board of Uttar Pradesh that represented the Muslims. All parties involved in the dispute had challenged the decision in the Supreme Court.