6 days to go: Pranab Mukherjee reaffirms peace

Wearing my business journalist cap, I went to meet him on matters economic — the G20 that I track very intensively, the threat to economic growth, the danger of inflation, land acquisition and so on. But Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is the government’s No. 1 trouble shooter and I brought him to Ayodhya.

“It is the correct approach,” he told me when I mentioned that religious organisations have assured that they would not allow any propagation of violence irrespective of which way the judgement goes.

“Those who are talking in those lines are behaving in the most responsible manner which a democratic polity can expect. There may be some elements here and there, who are not disciplined. But this is the correct approach. What the Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) appealed for and what Home Minister (P. Chidambaram) appealed in his observations, in the judicial process in our country, that we always have the scope to go to the last point, is correct.”

As we all know, the judgement by the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court is not going to be the end of this case — the party that loses can appeal to Supreme Court. The verdict was supposed to come on Friday but a two-judge bench has deferred it by a week.

The judges are giving the two parties one last change to arrive at an amicable settlement. With 60 years behind it, another week is not going to change things. “It is not question of seven days resolution,” Mukherjee said. “Besides, I am not a legal expert.”

You can see the long years of governance experience in his 79-year-old eyes that laugh along with his lips. But he quickly changes the subject, wipes out the smile and brings out the constitution: “Secularism in India does not mean absence of religion or negation of religion. Indian secularism means respect for all religions.”

Inshah Allah.

Om Shanti.

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