The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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VHP spits fire, BJP plays it cool

Raipur/New Delhi, June 27: Threatening an aggressive mass movement, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad today stepped up its attack on the Centre though BJP sources made light of the outfit’s stridency.

Ruling out talks with the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Praveen Togadia said: “The Vajpayee government is again talking to those who do not respect the Indian Constitution or Supreme Court and are a body of fundamentalists.”

He was speaking at a press conference after the inauguration of the VHP’s two-day national executive meeting in Raipur.

“We are preparing for a big fight for Ram temple construction but there will be no dharam sansad and a high power committee of sants will meet next month to take a final decision on the issue,” he said.

Vowing to finalise a “Hindu agenda” at the meet for the country’s “saffronisation”, Togadia hinted at drawing up a comprehensive strategy tomorrow.

BJP sources said the Sangh outfit’s rhetoric “might finally reinforce the impression that the VHP is unreasonable”.

“We are not worried,” a party office-bearer said. “This is one initiative (Kanchi Sankaracharya’s temple move), which if it succeeds, will earn us the goodwill of Indians for years to come. Anyway, Kashi and Mathura were never on our agenda. If Ayodhya is resolved, it’s good. They (the VHP) can shout and scream about the other places.”

An eye on gaining a simple majority in the Lok Sabha next year, the BJP realises it can no longer “ignore” the Muslim vote.

“Hindu votes are so badly split on caste lines that we can no longer bank on just those to cross the 180 mark. Getting 5 to 6 per cent of the Muslim vote is crucial,” sources said.

With both its progeny squabbling, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is torn over who to support in the Ayodhya dispute.

At the core is the BJP’s hint of support for the Sankaracharya’s reported proposal delinking Ayodhya from the Kashi and Mathura shrines, and the VHP’s firm rejection of such a move.

The RSS will thrash out its dilemma at a high-level executive meet in Kanyakumari on July 4. A senior RSS source said: “On the one hand, we cannot leave our ideological position, and on the other, we also have to take care of the BJP’s interests.”

The RSS, however, is firm on its support to the VHP’s demand for a central law to hand over the undisputed land to the Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas. Spokesman Ram Madhav said they would pass a “strong” resolution on Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura, which would be a “direction to all our organisations, including the BJP”.

Venkaiah vows unity

BJP chief M. Venkaiah Naidu today tried to counter the impression that the Sangh was falling apart on the Ayodhya dispute.

“If the government has to step in (at a later stage), it will take everyone into confidence, including the VHP. Nothing will be kept in darkness,” he said.

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