Government will consider both need as well as constitutionality while taking call on Ayodhya issue: Arun Jaitley

Mumbai: The government will consider both the need as well as constitutionality while taking a call on what stance it takes on the Ayodhya issue, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday. The senior BJP leader dubbed the Congress’ arguments on the Rafale issue as one reduced to being contested on a “dictational ambiguity” in the Supreme Court judgment.

“What steps the government should take in the matter (Ayodhya temple issue) are steps the government will consider and reflect on. “It will reflect on the need, it will reflect on the legal propriety, it will reflect on constitutionality before it takes a conclusion,” Jaitley said while speaking at an event organised by Republic TV. Jaitley said he would have wanted for an early resolution to the temple issue, considering the anxiety and tensions that it causes, but also understands the court’s difficulties.

He said the resilience that rests within India, beyond the voices on the extreme, will ensure that a solution is found to the issue. One need not be extraordinarily worried over how the solution is found — whether through the judicial process or through the political process, the minister said. In a different context, Jaitley said he is concerned about the quality of public discourse in the country and pitched for a shift to rationality driven positions on certain subjects.

The minister, however, hit out at existing “double standards”, saying it is not acceptable when one labels demands for constructing the temple in Ayodhya as “communal” and demands for not constructing it as “secular”.  The remarks come at a time when there are growing calls, especially from the Hindu right, including BJP’s parent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and allies like the Shiv Sena, to adopt the ordinance route to build the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

On the Rafale row, he suggested there has been a “dictational ambiguity” which the Supreme Court judgment vindicating government’s stand rests on, and it gives him the “satisfaction” to know that the opposition Congress’ case is based on this and nothing else. “Old case of pricing, procedures, favouritism is now a case of ambiguity,” he said, adding that now the ambiguity has been pointed out to the court, it will correct the same. He said 74 meetings of the committees related to price and contract negotiations were held before signing the final agreement for procurement of 36 Rafale jets from France.

Terming the campaign mounted by the opposition on the multi-crore jet deal as “juvenile and illiterate”, he said the final price negotiated in 2015 by the NDA government was nine per cent lower than the one in 2007 for the standalone aircraft and 20 per cent if one includes the weapon systems. Jaitley said the January 1 violence at Koregaon-Bhima near Pune was fuelled by “Maoists”, who were trying to misuse the Dalits, and stressed that such an agitation cannot be called as an uprising against the government.

The next election will be about the governance under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a coalition of rivals where the voters will have to take a risk, he said, stressing farmer marches are not a widespread movement. Stressing on the need to continue with the reform process, he said the Railways Ministry  has not “reformed really”. The extradition of AugustaWestland VVIP chopper scam accused Christian Michel from the UAE shows that India’s ability to put pressure on other governments has increased, Jaitley said. He also hoped for an early extradition of fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya from the UK.


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