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Ayodhya: Governors meet PM

September 20, 2010 11:58 IST
Renu Mittal reports on how the Prime Minister's Office is closely monitoring the situation in the light of next Friday's verdict on the Ayodhya title case.

The Manmohan Singh government is getting ready to confront a rare kind of situation in any nation's life, with the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court planning to deliver its judgment on the Ayodhya title suit on Friday, September 24.

Sources say governors of key states have arrived in New Delhi to confer with the prime minister and home minister about the post-judgment situation.

Prominent amongst them are the governors of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.

West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan, the prime minister's national security advisor until this January and a former director of the Intelligence Bureau, is also scheduled to reach Delhi soon.

Andhra Pradesh Governor E S L Narasimhan is also a former director of the Intelligence Bureau while Uttar Pradesh Governor B L Joshi, like Narayanan and Narasimhan, is a former Indian Police Service officer.

On Saturday evening Karnataka Governor Hansraj Bharadwaj had a long meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Bhardwaj, who served as law minister in Dr Singh's first government, has strong links with the legal fraternity in the high courts and Supreme Court. Sources said the prime minister was keen on getting his assessment on how the situation would play out at the verdict stage.

After the Union Cabinet passed a resolution appealing for peace on Thursday, the appeal appeared as an advertisement in newspapers across the country over the weekend.

Clearly, the government does not want to take chances in the wake of the volatile Kashmir situation and the Commonwealth Games which will begin next fortnight.

After Thursday's Cabinet meeting, Union Minister for Minority Affairs Salman Khurshid met the prime minister to discuss the likely fallout after the Ayodhya verdict. Apart from being a lawyer, Khurshid, an MP from Uttar Pradesh, was president of the UP Congress Committee for many years.

The prime minister has asked Khurshid -- whose grandfather Dr Zakir Hussain was India's third President -- to hold a press conference as the minorities affair minister and appeal for peace. The press conference will be held this week.

The Prime Minister's Office has also interacted with leaders of the Hindutva movement. The prime minister, it is learnt sent an emissary to meet with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leaders to ensure that there is no violent reaction to the verdict. Sources said a similar exercise has been undertaken with leaders of key Muslim organisations.

According to a PMO official, the assessment at the PMO is that both Chief Minister Mayawati in UP and Lalu Prasad Yadav in Bihar could cause problems in the aftermath of the verdict.

Bihar will have an assembly election in October and November and Lalu's Rashtriya Janata Dal may not be averse to polarising the Bihar polity after the judgment.

Mayawati, the PMO official felt, would look for the best political deal for her Bahujan Samaj Party in UP which goes to the polls in 2012.

The government has issued an advisory to television channels asking them to show restraint in the aftermath of the verdict and not carry any reports which could ignite passions and vitiate the atmosphere.

With both Prime Minister Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram personally handling the Ayodhya issue, PMO officials are confident that the law and order situation will remain under control.

The government expects that both communities will behave rationally after the verdict is announced on Friday.

ALSO READ: 'Muslims and Hindus seem to be tired about Ayodhya'

Renu Mittal in New Delhi