Are you satisfied with the response the yatra has received so far?
Satisfied is very weak word. I am overwhelmed.
You have said in several public meetings that the yatra is not for getting votes. Then what is the real motive?
The role of a political party is to keep on educating the people to impart political education to them in respect of issues. What I do today when I go to campaign in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala or Pondicherry, is to appeal to the electorate to vote for me. But the conscious decision of the yatra not to go to these states but to keep outside of these election-prone states is because there is no question of getting votes today. Increasing the party'scredibility among the people is a process, which should go on continuously. And this is part of this yatra.
You mentioned Ram temple in Rajkot and also in several other meetings during the yatra. For more than one decade there have been efforts for a mutual agreement between Hindus and Muslims, but there is no positive response from Muslims. Comment.
For a long time, we have been of the view that there are three ways to solve the Ramjanmabhoomi issue. Firstly, either the court should decide the matter in our favour saying that there was a temple and therefore it should be given to the Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas or someone else. The second way is that leaders of the two communities, those leaders who have some credibility, talk to each other and come to a mutual agreement. I would say that Shri Chandrashekharji had started a process in this regard. There was a dialogue for sometime. But it did not go ahead mainly because the people of Babri Masjid Action Committee did not respond to the points raised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. And the third way is a legislation either by the central government or by the state government.
When we came to power, it was a government headed by the BJP but comprising of several parties, which never agreed with the Ramjanmabhoomi issue. Discussions took place with them. They ultimately came round to the view that you drop the issue of a legislation and try the other two courses, whereby the solution can be found, namely through a court verdict or through a mutual agreement between the two parties. So that became the formulation of the NDA government. After the Narasimha Rao government, nobody including any party or leader of Muslim community talked about reconstructing a mosque there. We in the BJP felt that a legislation is not easy. If it is brought, so many people will oppose it. Even if there is a court verdict in our favour, the problem will continue to persist. So, if they can be persuaded that now the situation being what it is, if you are to respect the sentiments of Hindus, allow a temple to be reconstructed there. It would not only be a solution to a long-pending problem but it could bring the two communities closer to each other in a manner nothing else can do. The Muslim society will be doing a great service to the country and itself also if it adopts this course.
Do you think Muslims would come forward and respond positively?
I don'tknow. I know this much that privately many of them have met me and said that what you say is a right thing but we cannot say it publicly unless you persuade so and so. Before the elections of 2004 there were so many people who had practically committed themselves to adopt this course immediately after the elections, because they also expected us to come to power. There were also political parties that were otherwise opposed to it, but said this course is good.
Does it mean the BJP has started preparations for a mid-term poll?
I don'tsee a mid-term poll. Although I don'trule out the possibility. I always said this government is of a nature that will always have a question mark hanging over its head in respect of how long it will last. It may last full tenure; it may collapse any time.