The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Talks have resumed: seer

Chennai, July 12: The Kanchi Sankaracharya today sprung a surprise, saying efforts to break the Ayodhya deadlock were already under way but this time through “mediators”.

The statement comes less than a week after the All India Muslim Personal Law Board rejected his temple initiative, two key points of which were that the Muslims should gift the disputed Ayodhya site to the Hindus and give up claim on the mosques at Kashi and Mathura.

“Talks are again on with the help of a mediator on both sides and they will speak and get back to us,” Jayendra Saraswati said, claiming his initiative “had not failed”. The question was not of success or failure, but of “having the national interest in mind”, he said.

Fielding queries in the presence of a Nepal tourism team, he said he had not meant any “insult” when he made the Kashi and Mathura proposals in his second letter to the board dated July 1. “We gave the clarification because it was sought by them.”

The seer said it was not correct to say his second letter marked a turnaround from the first, dated June 16. The contents of both were dictated by the demands of the board, he claimed.

Initially, the Muslim leaders had wanted to resume talks from the point “we had left off last year” after the VHP’s bhoomi puja threat, he said. Accordingly, he had drafted the first letter. But then they asked why the commitment to abide by the court verdict on the disputed site had not found a mention in the proposal.

As a recent Supreme Court verdict had held that status quo would have to be maintained on both the disputed and the undisputed parts of the land, “it was on that basis we had to resume our talks”, he said.

The Sankaracharya said his second letter had been drafted on June 29 but the date had been inadvertently changed to July 1 when it was typed and sent to Lucknow. It was “sheer oversight on my part then, I did not notice the date of the second letter,” he clarified.

He said there was no truth in reports that the Kashi and Mathura clause had been introduced under “pressure from the RSS”. The Muslim board had “misunderstood us”, he said.

While RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan had looked up the seer on his way to the Kanyakumari conclave, VHP working president Ashok Singhal had driven down to the Kanchi mutt from Chennai for talks with him.

“The letter (second one) to be sent was drafted even before they came to see me and there was no influence by the RSS or the VHP,” the Sankaracharya said. “It so occurred to me that I should remind them about Kashi and Mathura.”

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