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Temple hawks get Sangh claws

New Delhi, June 17: Throwing its full weight behind the VHP on Ayodhya, the RSS has put three conditions before the Centre.

First, the claim over the Kashi and Mathura shrines will not be given up in exchange for Muslims abandoning their claim over Ayodhya. Second, the VHP should be part of any negotiated settlement. Third, mosques under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India must not be opened up for namaz.

The RSS, through this declaration, has rejected two crucial elements of a formula the Centre is working on in tandem with the Kanchi Sankaracharya.

As Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and the rest of the BJP brass were preparing to go into a huddle in Mumbai, RSS sarsanghachalak K.S. Sudarshan attended two meetings in Delhi today. One was with VHP leaders Ashok Singhal and Praveen Togadia and the other with Murli Manohar Joshi shortly before the minister left for Mumbai.

BJP sources said Sudarshan shared with Joshi the feedback from the VHP and also gave his own views on Ayodhya which the Union minister is expected to convey to Vajpayee and the other leaders. RSS leader Madan Das Devi, who is attending the Mumbai session, is also expected to argue the VHP’s case.

RSS leaders had met and agreed to back the VHP soon after Singhal and Togadia lashed out at the Centre yesterday for reneging on its “commitment to Hindus” on the Ram temple by trying to resolve the impasse behind their back.

“Kashi and Mathura are as important for the cause of Hindutva as Ayodhya, so how could the BJP hope we will give them up' If we do, they may as well forget about Hindutva and their political survival,” said an RSS source.

The RSS is also believed to have taken unkindly to the Centre’s ploy to sideline the VHP from the talks. “The VHP is the backbone of the temple struggle. Whichever sant or sadhu was associated with it got his strength and sustenance from the VHP and this includes the Sankaracharya,” the RSS source said in what was seen as a veiled warning to the Kanchi seer. Questions were asked in Sangh circles on who — the Prime Minister or the deputy Prime Minister — mandated the Sankaracharya to reopen a dialogue with Muslims.

The RSS is expected to pass a resolution endorsing the VHP’s stand on Ayodhya at a meeting scheduled to begin on July 2 in Kanyakumari.

In Lucknow, All-Indian Muslim Personal Law Board vice-president Maulana Kalbe-Sadiq said a set of proposals from the Kanchi seer was on its way.

The Shia leader said he had sought postponement of the meeting of the Babri panel scheduled to be held in Delhi on June 21 so that the board members can go through the proposals.

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