The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Isolated Singhal in seer meet dilemma

Chennai, June 23: Vishwa Hindu Parishad working president Ashok Singhal, who faces growing isolation over the resolution of the Ayodhya dispute, is in a dilemma about meeting Kanchi Sankaracharya Swami Jayendra Saraswati to discuss the latest proposals by the seer for ending the row.

The mutt at Kancheepuram, 75 km from here, has been flooded since dawn with calls about Singhal reportedly rushing to have a secret meeting with the seer on the proposals.

The VHP leader, who has openly criticised the seer over some aspects of the formula, was in the region yesterday when defence minister George Fernandes and finance minister Jaswant Singh had spoken with the Sankaracharya.

A source in the VHP office in Chennai said Singhal “may have come and gone to Kancheepuram without touching Chennai” to meet the Sankaracharya. But intelligence sources in the temple town maintained that the VHP leader did not visit the mutt and left for New Delhi this morning.

A source, however, indicated that Singhal may have spoken to the seer over phone early today.

Reporters from Chennai, who had rushed to Kancheepuram, had to be content with the sight of Union minister C.P. Thakur calling on the Sankaracharya after the seer performed puja.

Singhal’s dilemma stems partly from the positive feeling, about the resolution of the Ayodhya dispute, that the Kanchi seer’s proposals have created.

This was bolstered by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani backing the proposals and the Sankaracharya yesterday brushing aside the VHP’s criticisms, saying freedom of speech is part of democracy.

The feel-good factor was strengthened by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board terming the formula “positive and sincere”.

Singhal would be further isolated if the proposals catch popular fancy, as the board does not want to talk to organisations like the VHP, which it holds responsible for the demolition of the Babri mosque.

Already, key NDA allies like DMK president M. Karunanidhi, who visited the Tiruchi central prison today to meet jailed elder son M.K. Azhagiri, has welcomed any initiative towards resolving the Ayodhya row peacefully.

This compounds the problem for Singhal, whose organisation is firm on its claims to the shrines at Kashi and Mathura, in meeting Jayendra Saraswati directly.

The seer, who sees his proposals as a peaceful initiative, had said yesterday that on his part, “I have not spoken a word about Kashi or Mathura”.

The VHP’s insistence on their claim to the shrines might also not stand up to legal scrutiny as the Narasimha Rao government had enacted a law to maintain the status quo of all places of worship as on August 15, 1947. The only exception was the Ayodhya shrine.

Sources said the Kanchi seer had been talking to Muslim groups in Ayodhya for the past several months, thus strengthening the possibility of an out-of-court settlement.

Email This Page