Political leaders from the Bharatiya Janata Party appeared cautious following the Ayodhya case verdict on Friday. A Constitution bench of the Supreme Court on Friday appointed a three-member committee of mediators to find a “permanent solution” to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute in Ayodhya. Retired Supreme Court judge FMI Kalifulla will head the panel, while Art of Living founder Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu are the other members.
The panel has to arrive at a decision within eight weeks.
Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said he “won’t question” the Supreme Court order, but added that efforts made to arrive at a solution to the dispute in the past had failed, ANI reported. “No Lord Ram devotee or saint wants a delay in the construction of the temple,” he added.
Union Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation Uma Bharti said she does not want to comment on the court’s order. “I don’t want to comment on the mediators named by the court,” she said. “But as a Hindu, I think a temple should be made where Lord Ram was born.”
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi criticised the appointment of Ravi Shankar as a mediator. “Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who has been appointed a mediator had earlier made a statement ‘if Muslims don’t give up their claim on Ayodhya, India will become Syria’,” ANI reported him as saying. “It would’ve been better if Supreme Court had appointed a neutral person.”
“If you look at High Court rules, you’ll find it clearly states that if a person has previously been involved in a dispute, he cannot be the mediator,” he added, according to News18.
However, Ravi Shankar said “respecting everyone, turning dreams into reality, ending long-standing conflicts happily and maintaining harmony in society” should be worthy goals for society following the verdict. On Wednesday, he had said that mediation was “in the best interest of the country”.
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati welcomed the court’s decision. “Hon’ble Supreme Court’s order to constitute in-camera mediation [in Faizabad] in order to resolve the Ayodhya matter seems an honest effort,” she tweeted. “Hon’ble court looking for ‘a possibility of healing relationships’ is an appreciable move. BSP welcomes it.”
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat said mediation had not worked in the past, but this time the Supreme Court will monitor it, PTI reported. She said all parties to the dispute have agreed to mediation, and it remains to be seen what the end result is.
The Hindu Mahasabha, which had been opposed to mediation, spoke in contradictory tones on Friday. “Our past experience with mediation has not been good,” its advocate Varun Kumar Sinha said. “I hope the apex court has taken this into consideration.”
However, Swami Chakrapani, president of the All Hindu Mahasabha, said the outfit accepts the order. “We are happy with it,” he said. “We are glad that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is part of the mediation panel. I am sure that everything will go well.”