New Delhi: A ‘careful’ Congress respected the Supreme Court’s Ayodhya verdict Saturday but found itself in murky waters Sunday when the National Herald – the newspaper affiliated to it – published and then withdrew two opinion pieces that questioned the judgment.
The first of the pieces to be pulled down was written by Sujatha Anandan, a regular columnist with the paper, and was headlined Why a devout Hindu will never pray at the Ram temple in Ayodhya. In it, Anandan wonders if “God can reside in a temple built by force, violence and bloodshed”.
“Can prayers be ever addressed in such a temple even if God does decide to reside there?” Anandan asks.
The Herald pulled down the piece by Sunday evening after the Congress party faced a severe backlash on social media. The paper later apologised for the article.
“We apologise if the article headlined ‘Why a devout Hindu will never pray at the Ram Temple in Ayodhya’ hurt anyone or any group’s sentiments and feelings. That was not our intention,” the paper wrote on its website. “The views expressed in the article are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of National Herald. –Editor-in-Chief.”
It also apologised on Twitter.
We apologise if the article ‘Why a devout Hindu…’ hurt anyone or any group’s sentiments. The views expressed in the article are author’s personal views and do not reflect those of #NationalHerald https://t.co/J1r9GlsVHv
— National Herald (@NH_India) November 10, 2019
The Herald also removed another opinion piece, written by Aakar Patel, which compared the Supreme Court to the Pakistan Supreme Court. Patel argued in the piece that Supreme Court “has ruled exactly what the VHP and the BJP wanted from the beginning, even after accepting that installing idols and demolishing the mosque was unlawful”.
The controversial pieces
In the first piece, Anandan also questions the SC judgment while asserting that “strangely (former Shiv Sena chief) Bal Thackeray wanted a school or a hospital built there.”
“I cannot help thinking that the honourable judges attempted to satisfy popular sentiment while at the same time not doing an injustice to those wronged and violated all those years ago,” Anandan wrote. “A balancing act but with a slight tilt in the balance, I should think.”
“Look at the fractured thought process – the judges say placing idols of Lord Ram in the disputed structure in 1949 was wrong and demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 was clearly unlawful. Then how do two wrongs make a right?” Anandan argued further.
The article also carried a contentious cartoon that equated the demolition of the Babri Masjid with the Supreme Court’s verdict. “Jiski laathi uski bhains” (people with power have their way), read the cartoon.
On the other hand, Patel dwells on the Supreme Court’s concluding statement.
“On a balance of probabilities, the evidence in respect of the possessory claim of the Hindus to the composite whole of the disputed property stands on a better footing than the evidence adduced by the Muslims,” he wrote.
He too slammed the judgment. “What is our Supreme Court saying? That discretion and vandalism must be rewarded because India is a secular country?” he asked.
Patel further argued that he is “unable to figure out the logic and the jurisprudence that links the findings of the court and its conclusions”.
BJP lashes out, Congress guarded
The Congress has so far been guarded in its response.
“The Congress stand is clear as stated in the CWC resolution and at the briefing done by Randeep Singh Surjewala,” said Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
On Saturday, the party’s chief spokesperson Surjewala said that the Congress “supported the building of the Ram temple”.
The BJP, however, wasted no time in hitting out at the Congress.
‘“National Herald, for which both mother-son are out on bail-it is the jewel of the Gandhi family,” said BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra.
“The way it has commented on the Ayodhya verdict is condemnable. I am quoting — ‘People with power have their waypeople with power have their way ‘Why the Ayodhya verdict reminds us of the Supreme Court of Pakistan’. National Herald, the mouthpiece of the Congress party is reminded of the Ayodhya verdict that has come, which has been pronounced by the Supreme Court. This is shameful. It is worth slamming that the Congress party mouthpiece using such words is belittling the Supreme Court.”