(Photo: SAM PANTHAKY/AFP via Getty Images).

TERMING the decision of All India Muslim Personal Law Board and the Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind to seek a review of the recent Ayodhya verdict as “double standard”, spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said Hindus and Muslims should move on and work towards strengthening the economy.

The spiritual leader, who was part of the Supreme Court-appointed mediation panel in the Ayodhya case, said the matter would have been solved long back, had one side not been insistent on building a mosque at the disputed site.

Speaking on the current financial crisis in India, he said a lot needed to be done to push the economy forward.

“Yes I am happy with the Ayodhya verdict. I have been telling this since 2003 that both communities can work on it… build mandir on one side and masjid on the other. But yeh zidd ki masjid wahi banana hai ka koi matlab nahi tha (stubbornness to build mosque at the disputed site was meaningless),” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar told PTI in an exclusive interview here.

Sri Sri was in the city to address a gathering at Netaji Indoor Stadium, where he also announced his new nationwide programme “Vyakti Vikas se Rashtra Vikas” (from development of individual to development of the country).   He hailed the apex court verdict as a “very good decision to resolve the long-standing dispute”.

A special bench of Supreme Court, in its unanimous verdict on November 9, cleared the way for the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya and directed the Centre to allot a five-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for building a mosque.

In what is assumed as one of the most-important and most-anticipated judgments in India’s history, the court put an end to the over-a-century-old dispute that was harming the social fabric of the nation.

When asked about the AIMPLB planning to file a review petition, the spiritual leader said not everybody could be pleased with a decision.

“Naturally, everybody cannot be made happy with a decision; different people have different views…The same people who are planning to go for a review had earlier said they will accept the Supreme Court verdict, now they have changed their position,” the founder of The Art of Living Foundation said.

The Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind said last week that the draft of the review petition against the recent verdict was ready and the plea would be filed on December 3 or 4.

The AIMPLB) also said that the review plea would be filed before December 9.

Criticising the two Islamic organisations, Sri Sri said, “The double standard is obvious Earlier they had said they would accept the verdict, even if it goes against their interests. Now they are saying something different.”

The 63-year-old spiritual guru, however, asserted that Ayodhya issue should “not be mixed up” with that of the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi and Krishna Janmabhoomi in Mathura, two other disputed sites.

“All sorts of voices keep coming There are a lot of things that need to be done in society. We need to set our priorities right, focus on education, jobs and unemployment. We need to see how to create more entepreuners and push our economy forward,” he insisted.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had recently stated that it would draw the nation’s attention to the Kashi (Varanasi) and Mathura disputes, post the Ayodhya verdict.

Talking about the sluggish economic growth in the second quarter, Sri Sri said efforts should be made from every side to improve the state of economy.

India’s second quarter GDP growth slowed sharply to 4.5 per cent, the weakest pace in more than six years, as manufacturing output hit a slump and consumer demand as well as private investment weakened.

The spiritual guru, however, replied in the negative when asked if the mandir-masjid issue cast its shadow on the country’s economy, as alleged by various opposition parties.  “I don’t think so (the two are not related) because this verdict was given by the court,” he added.