The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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VHP sinks differences with seer
- Sangh chief carries peace message to Kanchi

Chennai, June 30: The Sankaracharya’s Ayodhya initiative took a big leap forward today as it appeared to have won the acceptance of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad that has so far noisily rejected his dispute-busting effort.

After a meeting with the Kanchi seer, RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan said there was no “real difference between the VHP and the Sankaracharya”.

Following days of strident attacks on the government and the effort at a negotiated settlement of the Ayodhya dispute, the VHP also signalled agreement with key elements of what is being called the Sankaracharya formula, differing only on detail.

At Nagpur, VHP leader Praveen Togadia said the parishad was opposed to construction of a mosque within 14 kose (about 44 km) of the Ram temple.

Reports suggest that the Sankaracharya’s proposal sent to the All India Muslim Personal Law Board contains three points: temple on the undisputed portion of the land, mosque outside the perimeter of this area and leaving the disputed part to resolution through a court verdict.

Togadia said: “The VHP would stick to three points: temple at Ayodhya at any cost, welcome to any unconditional discussion or negotiations and no mosque within 14 kose of the temple at Ayodhya.”

There is nothing here to suggest a dramatic difference with the Sankaracharya formula, the only possible point of divergence — and not an insurmountable one — being the distance of the mosque from the temple.

Togadia made no mention of past threats to stir up trouble over Kashi and Mathura, where puja and namaz coexist happily, and embraced the possibility of a negotiated settlement.

This was a far cry from the Raipur executive meeting which ended on Saturday, when the VHP threatened an agitation and said Atal Bihari Vajpayee and .K. Advani should resign if they fail to enact a law to hand over the undisputed land to the Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas for construction of a temple.

It had also ruled out talks with the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.

The RSS spokesman, Ram Madhav, who accompanied Sudarshan to the meeting, said the outfit and the seer held similar views on Ayodhya. “We both sail almost together. This is one of the outcomes of our meeting with the Sankaracharya,” he said.

Madhav said the RSS chief and he had tried to understand the seer’s proposals and explained the Sangh’s stand on the issue. The spokesman said the Prime Minister had no role in the seer’s proposals, but added that the Centre and the VHP had to come into the picture sometime.

Sudarshan and top RSS functionaries are heading to Kanyakumari where a two-day national executive will be held from Saturday.

The RSS needs to mediate in the ongoing dispute between its progeny, with the VHP adopting a hard line on the issue and the BJP aware that backing the seer towards a resolution of the dispute could help it win the next election.

It appeared today as though the RSS chief wanted to mend relations with the seer, who has received full backing from the BJP for his latest initiative.

Sudarshan was asked after the meeting if he was trying to “break the ice between the VHP and the seer”. The RSS chief chose his words carefully, but sought to dispel the notion that the VHP was at odds with the seer. Sudarshan would only say: “I came only to have a darshan of the Sankaracharya”.

He did not go into details about what was discussed at the meeting, saying the seer had not yet made public his formula to resolve the dispute. Since the personal law board deliberates on the seer’s proposals on July 6, “let us wait for their response”, Sudarshan said.

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