A day after the Supreme Court declined to pass any order on an appeal seeking an urgent stay on the inspection of the Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi Mosque complex, the Congress Saturday spelt out its position on the issue and said no attempt should be made to “change the status of any place of worship”.
The Congress referred to The Places of Worship Act passed by the P V Narasimha Rao government in 1991 and said, “We believe that all other places of worship should remain in the status they are and they were.”
The Act passed by the Rao government seeks to maintain the “religious character” of places of worship as it was in 1947 — except in the case of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, which was already in court. The law was brought in at the peak of the Ram Mandir movement, exactly a year before the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
Responding to a question at a press conference, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said, “The Places of Worship Act was passed after deep consideration in Narasimha Rao’s government. The only exception in that Act was to the Ram Janmabhoomi. We believe that all other places of worship should remain in the status they are and they were. We should not make an attempt to change the status of any place of worship. That will only lead to huge conflict and it is to avoid such conflicts that the Narasimha Rao government had passed the Places of Worship Act.”
In March, the Supreme Couppt asked the Central government to respond to a plea challenging the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.