June 13: The Sankaracharya of Kanchi, Swami Jayendra Saraswati, said today that a solution to the Ayodhya dispute would be reached in two to three months if the three parties holding talks continued to do so without interference.
The Centre, the Muslim groups and he alone should participate in the discussions, the seer said at Kancheepuram. Any outside interference would only confuse matters, he added.
The Centre also lent credence to a perception that it was trying to wean away the clergy from Hindu hardliners. In a surprise statement, the Centre today termed “correct” the Narasimha Rao government’s decision to ban the VHP after the Babri demolition.
“It was a correct measure of the Centre as it was based on provocative statements made by (VHP leaders) Ashok Singhal, Sadhvi Rithambara and Acharya Dharmendra Dev,”the Centre’s counsel, Lala Ram Gupta, told the Liberhan Commission probing the events leading to the demolition.
In Lucknow, the rift in the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board was revealed further when vice-president Maulana Kalbe-Sadiq said senior board officials should visit the site of the Ayodhya excavations to “verify their accuracy and authenticity”.
Kalbe-Sadiq said he would not withdraw his resignation from the board’s 11-member committee on Ayodhya because he did not agree with the reaction of some members to the Kanchi seer’s proposals to solve the dispute.
“But I continue to remain the board’s vice-president and cannot neglect my obligation to the community,” he said.
The Shia cleric’s statement appears directed at board member Zafaryab Jilani, who had said that Kalbe-Sadiq had no right to go against the board’s earlier resolution on Babri Masjid and that his resignation should be accepted. The resolution said the board would abide by the court verdict on Ayodhya and ruled out any compromise.
“Jilani, as counsel of the Central Sunni Waqf Board, is allowed to visit the Ayodhya excavation site and the Shia cleric now wants to settle scores,” a senior Muslim leader said.
Kalbe-Sadiq said he had information that “some facts were being purposely hidden at the excavation site”.
He added that he would meet board president Maulana Rabey Nadvi within a day or two and ask him to send senior members to monitor the excavations.
Kalbe-Sadiq said he wanted a solution to the Ayodhya tangle through any civilised method.
He welcomed the Kanchi seer’s latest proposal and was critical of the board members who had rejected talks with Jayendra Saraswati. “Religious leaders like him do what they say, unlike political leaders who commit one thing and do just the opposite,” he said.
Union minister Swami Chinmayanand, who is in Lucknow, suggested that an all-party meeting be held to find a solution. But he said he had not held any secret meetings with Muslim leaders. “The government has decided to wait for the results of the Sankaracharya’s initiative.”
Ramchandradas Paramhans, the chief of the Ramnjanmabhoomi Trust, is stable after a heart attack. But he is not out of danger, doctors said.