The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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VHP warms up for bill warning
- Give-and-take signal on temple & poll

New Delhi, July 11: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad is likely to serve an ultimatum on the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government to bring a bill in the monsoon session for handing over the government acquired land in Ayodhya.

If the bill is defeated, the VHP is expected to ask the government to quit and seek a fresh mandate on the Ram temple. In return, it will assure its support to the BJP in the elections.

VHP sources said if, on the other hand, the government rejects its demand, a meeting will be held after September 10 — when the chatur maas ends — to finalise a programme of agitation. The two-month chatur maas coincides with the monsoon and is the period when the Hindu clergy goes into seclusion.

The VHP said the legislation should enable the Centre to hand over the entire Ayodhya complex and not distinguish between the “disputed” and “undisputed” areas. This would ensure that the sanctum sanctorum remains at its present site, where Babri Masjid once stood.

These decisions — which will be unveiled tomorrow at a press conference, in the shape of a resolution — were taken in a meeting of the Ram Mandir Nirman Andolan Samiti.

For the first time, RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan attended a meeting of the samiti. His presence, along with that of colleagues Madan Das Devi and Mohanrao Bhagwat, confirmed the perception that the Sangh had cast its lot with the VHP on Ayodhya.

VHP sources said Devi was expected to convey the outcome of the talks to Prime Minister Vajpayee and deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani tonight.

Speaking briefly outside the Sanatan Dharam Mandir venue, VHP general secretary Praveen Togadia said: “After today’s meeting, a lot of change is possible. We will assess the impact of our decisions on the polity before publicly announcing them.”

Sources said the meeting was “extremely critical” of the exclusion of the VHP from the last round of talks involving the Kanchi Sankaracharya and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and said it must be included in any future exercise.

The meeting iterated there would be no compromise on Kashi and Mathura and the government could be urged to repeal the Places of Worship Act. The act stipulates that status quo ante, as it was before 1947, must be maintained at all religious shrines and sites barring Ayodhya. This means the Gyan Vapi and Shahi Idgah mosques in Kashi and Mathura cannot be touched by the VHP, which claims that these were built after demolishing temples and “rightfully” belong to Hindus.

The VHP also placed on board its demand for a central law to ban cow slaughter instead of leaving it to the states.

The meeting set up a three-member committee comprising former Gorakhpur MP Mahant Avaidhyanath, Swami Parmanand and Basudev Acharya to formulate the next line of action in case the Centre rejects the demand for an Ayodhya law.

The RSS gave an impression of going along with the VHP, but sources said the leaders asked VHP working president Ashok Singhal, Togadia and others to stop criticising Vajpayee.

The BJP continued to maintain that Kashi and Mathura were not on its agenda and that it was not possible to bring a law without majority in Parliament.

Babri proposal

A little-known group of ulemas and Sufi saints in charge of various dargahs has proposed that Babri Masjid be rebuilt outside the panchkosi parikrama.

The group, under the banner of the Aalami Roohani Markaz, appears to have the patronage of the Union government because the home ministry distributed its press release which said the disputed site should be handed over to Hindus without seeking any concession in return. It added that nothing should be done on Ayodhya without taking the VHP into confidence since it has led the temple movement.

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