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Temple troops float truce formula

Nagpur, March 7: The RSS has declared that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad might call a truce on the temple front and call off its proposed satyagraha if the “undisputed” land in Ayodhya’s mandir-masjid complex is handed over to the Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas by March 27 — the deadline set the VHP.

The apparent assurance given by the RSS on the VHP’s behalf was the outcome of an informal meeting of Sangh affiliates, including the BJP, held this morning after the inaugural session of the All-India Delegates’ Convention at Hedgewar Bhavan.

The VHP was represented by working president Ashok Singhal and general secretary Praveen Togadia, both of whom had lashed out at Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani at a public meeting in Nagpur on Wednesday. Those representing the BJP included party president M. Venkaiah Naidu, vice-president Bal Apte and general secretaries Rajnath Singh and Sanjay Joshi.

The RSS had a battery of top leaders at the meeting, including sarsanghachalak K.S. Sudarshan, general secretary Mohanrao Bhagwat and joint general secretary Madan Das Devi. Bhagwat and Devi liaise with the BJP and the Centre.

BJP sources said the meeting stressed the need for “more co-ordination and frequent interaction” between parivar members. It was decided that while individual constituents like the VHP and the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh were free to articulate their views on policies and issues, “there will be less attacks on each other”.

The RSS leaders, on their part, made it clear to the VHP, the BMS and the Swadeshi Jagran Manch that the government should not be “destabilised” — “whatever the provocation” — and that, despite the constraints of overseeing a coalition government, the BJP had done its best to facilitate temple construction.

The “give-and-take” sentiment was reflected in the responses of RSS spokesman M.G. Vaidya during his interaction with the media today.

Vaidya was ambivalent in his elaboration of the Sangh report for 2002-2003, which was released today and had the expected quota of temple rhetoric. “It appears that (the) time is fast approaching for us to become active in the Ram Mandir movement,” the report said.

“We support whatever programme they (the VHP) take up. But there is uncertainty about whether their March 27 satyagraha will take place or not. If the hurdle to handing over of the undisputed land to the Nyas is removed, there is no need for a satyagraha,” he said.

“We support the government because it is not anti-Ram temple. The very fact that it has moved an application before the (Supreme) Court (to have the March 2002 stay order vacated) is proof,” the RSS spokesman said.

Emphasising that the RSS had “no doubt” about the Centre’s motives on the temple construction, Vaidya said: “The government may be an NDA government, but the BJP never said it has given up Ram temple or it is not on its agenda.”

The bonhomie struck today was manifest in the RSS deciding to keep away from discussing economic issues like privatisation and disinvestment and “safely” sticking to a resolution on the farming sector. Even this, the sources said, would demand setting up of more research centres and universities and not take up sticky matters like urea and fertiliser price hikes.

The only cause of concern for the Centre could be the RSS’ opposition to a private member’s Bill placed before the select committee of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, which advocated dividing Jammu into three regions — Poonch-Rajouri, Doda and Jammu-Kathuwa — on religious lines.

“It will severely handicap the pro-India forces in that region. This old conspiracy in a new bottle has further strengthened the demand of the people of that region for separate statehood for Jammu,” the sources said.

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