The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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VHP mosque offer with rider

New Delhi, Feb. 19: Two days ahead of the dharma sansad, VHP veteran Acharya Giriraj Kishore has climbed down a bit and indicated that the organisation was ready to talk to the Centre if it came up with a “proposal” on the Ayodhya dispute.

Kishore said the VHP was ready to build a mosque outside the government-acquired land if Muslims withdrew their claim on the “disputed” site.

However, the Centre has decided that it would not initiate talks with any group – neither the VHP nor the All India Muslim Personal Law Board — pending a decision from the Supreme Court on its stay on religious activity on the “undisputed” and “disputed” land.

The court will begin hearing on February 21 the Centre’s application seeking removal of the stay.

The decision against reopening a dialogue right now was taken at a meeting between deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and human resources development minister Murli Manohar Joshi this evening.

“They decided that the government’s one-point agenda would be to wait for the court’s decision. Nothing should be done which could have a negative bearing on it and give the impression that the government is looking for solutions outside the legal ambit,” a source close to Advani said.

Advani and Joshi conveyed their view to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee shortly before the Cabinet held its routine weekly meeting. It was, however, decided that Advani and Joshi would continue speaking “informally” to VHP working president Ashok Singhal and general secretary Praveen Togadia to try and “convince” them to allow the legal option to exhaust itself out before they embarked on a political confrontation.

However, BJP sources conceded that the Centre had its task cut out because the VHP leadership has slammed the Prime Minister almost everyday in public. At the World Hindu Council held in Gorakhpur last week, Singhal had accused Vajpayee of “betraying” the country by “dragging his feet” on the temple issue. Today, Kishore trashed the Centre’s initiative on the legal front as an “eyewash” and advised Kanchi Sankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati not to “enter the arena each time”.

Referring to the move to get the stay order vacated, Kishore said: “The step comes too late. Nothing can be done before our dharma sansad on February 22.”

He added: “Had the government wanted to resolve the issue before this date, it should have approached the Supreme Court two or three months earlier.”

Alleging that the Vajpayee-led government was “under the pressure of vote-bank politics”, Kishore said: “A political party becomes a beggar of votes and a worshipper of kursi (chair).”

VHP sources warned that the dharma sansad would sustain the “high pitch” in its resolution and would not spare the government or the BJP leaders. “The Ayodhya resolution will, however, state it clearly that if the court fails to give a verdict in favour of Hindus soon, we will have no option but to go to people’s court. In simple language, that means begin construction,” a source said.

However, a “deadline” was unlikely to be set before October, which is when elections would be held in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Chhattisgarh.

“After the sansad, the sadhus and sants will go into temporary hibernation during the chatur maas. The VHP activists will keep up the tempo by organising jan andolans (people’s agitation). A decisive step will be taken close to October,” the source added.

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