The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Two-pronged plan to resolve temple row

New Delhi, June 12: With Atal Bihari Vajpayee saying he is interested in “an early resolution” of the Ayodhya problem, the Centre is learnt to be working on two fronts, albeit behind the wings, to resolve the dispute.

First, the Centre is urging the Congress to support a Central legislation that would enable it to hand over portions of the “undisputed” land to the Ramjanmabhoomi Trust to begin temple construction.

The other strategy is to cause a split in the VHP to separate the clergy from hardline leaders like Ashok Singhal and Acharya Giriraj Kishore and bring them on the side of the Kanchi Sankaracharya. Swami Jayendra Saraswati has emerged as the pivotal player in the fresh bid to bring about a negotiated settlement.

A source says the VHP disapproved of the Sankaracharya’s plan and made it clear that no resolution was possible unless its own leaders were involved. But the move to isolate Singhal and Kishore has been taken at the top. It was only after this that deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani met the chief of the temple trust, Mahant Ramchandradas Paramhans, two weeks ago.

VHP sources said the meeting was arranged by minister of state for home Swami Chinmayanand, who is a member of the VHP’s high-powered steering committee.

Paramhans, 90, had a massive heart attack today while performing puja in Ayodhya. He was airlifted to Lucknow in a government plane this afternoon and rushed to hospital. His condition is said to be critical.

Paramhans had recently advised the Kanchi seer to keep away from the dispute to retain his credibility. He urged him to let politicians resolve the matter.

Kishore said today nothing had come out of the Advani-Paramhans meeting. The VHP vice-president said the mahant had asked Advani to ensure the Centre hands over the 67 acres of land under its supervision to the temple trust.

“It appeared that he (Paramhans) did not get what he wanted. He has been sad since then. It has always been his desire to see the construction of a grand Ram temple at the disputed site during his lifetime,” Kishore said. He alleged that the mahant’s heart attack was the result of the Centre’s apathy.

But BJP sources said Kishore’s statement reflected the VHP’s “frustration” at not being roped into renewed resolution efforts.

They said that as both Vajpayee and Advani were being targeted by the VHP, it suited them to have an “acceptable and reasonable” mediator like the seer assume the main role.

Sources said the formula that was worked out by the Sankaracharya had four main components: the Ram temple on the same site as the makeshift temple, a mosque which would be nine or 10 km away, relinquishing Hindu claims over the Kashi and Mathura mosques and reopening defunct mosques under Archaeological Survey of India jurisdiction for worship.

The rationale for giving up claims on Kashi and Mathura was that namaaz was being offered daily in the Gyan Vapi mosque in Varanasi and the Shahi Idgah mosque in Mathura. “Resolving Ayodhya is easier because the mosque there is not functioning,” sources said.

The government’s other strategy is to push through legislation. But while Singhal wants the Centre to propose the law, the government would like a private member to propose the resolution in Parliament as a “trial balloon” to test the waters.

The resolution will be introduced closer to the elections, in the winter session or next year’s budget session.

It is hoped the Congress will support the resolution “if only in the hope of winning back the support of upper-caste Hindus in the heartland”, BJP sources said.

Email This Page