The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Plan junked, but not fully

Lucknow, July 6: The turn of events has disappointed several members of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board but they share their vice-president’s optimism that “it’s not the end of the road”.

Vice-president Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, a leading Shia cleric, regretted that the Kanchi Sankaracharya’s second letter yesterday to board president Maulana Rabey Nadwi turned out to be “disappointing”.

Swami Jayendra Saraswati’s first letter containing a set of proposals was, after all, encouraging, he said.

But Sadiq was quick to say that the board’s working committee had not “rejected totally” the seer’s proposals. “The doors for dialogue to resolve the issue would be kept open. We feel that the process of mutual negotiations should continue,” he said.

Sadiq and a small group of board members, identified as doves, now propose to approach the Kanchi seer with the board’s set of proposals.

Nadwi, who is also the Lucknow Nadwa rector, and other moderates in the board’s 41-member working committee privately empathise with Sadiq.

They feel the Sankaracharya’s premature public utterances have stalled the negotiation process only for the time being.

Experts in Muslim politics emphasised that the reaction of Hindu and Muslim clerics and organisations to the seer’s proposals is a clear indication that no institution or individual can now claim to speak for the entire community.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and religious leaders such as Badrikaashram Sankaracharya Vasudevananda openly criticised the Kanchi seer’s proposals, while Nadwi faced flak from Muslim hardliners such as G.M. Banatwala, Syed Shahabuddin and leading clerics of the Barelvi sect.

“The Sankaracharya was attacked because he was a Shaivite trying to meddle in the affairs of the Vaishnavites,” said Ramesh Dixit, a political science professor at Lucknow University.

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