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Sangh plays mediator, one last time
Advani

New Delhi, Sept. 7: The RSS has again stepped in to calm tempers a day after VHP leader Ashok Singhal said he did not wish to see Atal Bihari Vajpayee as Prime Minister again, but clarified that it would not play the mediator any more.

The Sangh said it expected the BJP to directly re-establish a line of communication with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and make up before the next round of elections.

The RSS’ latest mediation came after Singhal reportedly said at a function yesterday in Jammu that the country had become “weaker” under Vajpayee’s leadership and warned his outfit would offer “conditional” support to the BJP in the next elections.

Sangh sources said the warning set alarm bells ringing in the Jhandewalan headquarters in Delhi because “Singhal has a commanding personality of his own which is quite independent of those at the head of the RSS. Under him, the VHP has acquired a life of its own”.

This morning, RSS sarsanghchalak K.S. Sudarshan, general secretary Mohanrao Bhagwat and joint general secretaries Madan Das Devi and H.V. Seshadri gave their latest “advice” to deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani.

RSS sources said Sudarshan and the other swayamsevaks also drew Advani’s attention to two Ayodhya-related developments and sought to convince him of the need for the NDA government not to delay taking a “positive” step forward on the temple front.

The first development was the Archaeological Survey of India’s report submitted to Allahabad High Court that spoke of the existence of a 10th century structure beneath the demolished Babri Masjid. The other was the VHP’s margdarshak mandal meeting here, scheduled for September 13, 14 and 15.

“Our leaders told the DPM (deputy Prime Minister) that the ASI’s findings had effectively demolished whatever case the anti-temple groups had. The ambience is favourable for constructing a Ram temple and the VHP will announce a plan of action for this purpose. The government will have to chalk out its response accordingly,” the source said.

The RSS also clarified that if there was a VHP-Centre face-off, the Sangh would be on the former’s side as it could not deviate from its commitment to building the temple.

Although the RSS and the BJP had in several meetings resolved on a multi-layer coordination mechanism between the party and the Sangh and its affiliates, the scheme never took off.

The upshot was that while Vajpayee, Advani and the other BJP brass met the RSS top guns from time to time, the party’s communication with the VHP, “which has as powerful a persona as the RSS, if not more”, snapped.

The RSS leaders also urged Advani to reintroduce the bill banning cow slaughter in Parliament’s winter session by making a “serious effort” to get Congress backing for a consensus. The bill was withdrawn in the monsoon session on the Telugu Desam Party’s protest.

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