The government heaved a sigh of relief as the Supreme Court came to its aid by deferring the much anticipated Ayodhya verdict on the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title suit and asked all interested parties to appear on Tuesday.
There is intense speculation all over the country on whether the high court will actually be able to deliver the judgement since one of the judges is retiring on October 1, and the judgement would have to be given by September 30. In the event that the Supreme Court does not lift the stay, it would mean that the bench hearing the case would be dissolved and a fresh bench would be constituted leading to yet another delay.
The union government had panicked with reports coming in that trouble was in the offing whichever way the judgement went. With the Commonwealth Games around the corner and US President Obama set to visit India, the Centre was anxious that there should be no communal flare-ups in the country to add to its troubles with the CWG mess, violence in Kashmir and floods in various parts of the country.
Highly placed sources said that the government had been given a life line when the Suprme Court took the line that one more effort should be made to bring all the parties together and arrive at a consensus to resolve the issue . It was continuing to advise the television channels to show restraint and not to broadcast any inflammatory material. The government has now extended the ban on bulk smses to September 29 for the same purpose.
What is interesting is that the Congress has welcomed the Supreme Court's intervention to stay the Ayodhya verdict. All India Congress Committee media department chairman Janardan Dwivedi said the Congress party has always maintained this dispute should be settled amicably with mutual understanding in an atmosphere of amity and appreciation of the feelings of each other or alternatively the matter should be decided by the court and that verdict should be accepted by everyone. He said everyone should welcome this verdict since the Congress believes that the Supreme Court has given this decision in this spirit.
Sources say there are growing apprehensions within the Muslim community that they are being shortchanged and that the Supreme Court intervention at this stage is to prevent a verdict which they feel would have decided the title suit in favour of the wakf board. Sources say that if this feeling persists and catches on, it could spell bad news for the Congress party since the support of the muslims is crucial for the congress in key states like UP, if it has to come to power on its own.
The fact that the Ram Chandra Tripathi, the petitioner is the nephew of a former Congress chief minister and the fact that his lawyer is the eminent Mukul Rohtagi, who was the additional solicitor general in the National Democratic Alliance government. Rohtagi represent's the Gujarat government in the Supreme Court.
A senior leader said that all this uncertainty did not send a very good signal to the minorities. Much would depend on what happens on Tuesday and if the verdict is stayed indefinitely, it could open a new pandora's box of events.