The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Atal ready to consider Ayodhya law

New Delhi, July 12: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has managed to broker a tenuous truce between the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the BJP on Ayodhya without bringing their representatives face to face.

Thanks to the efforts of RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan and his colleagues Madan Das Devi and Mohanrao Bhagwat, the government has agreed to consider the VHP’s demand for a central law to hand over the acquired Ayodhya land to the Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas.

In return, the VHP was persuaded to stop asking for Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s resignation or serving him ultimatums on construction of a Ram temple. It was also decided that when the government revives the process of a negotiated settlement, the VHP would be made part of it.

The RSS set out on its role of peacemaker yesterday when, in an unprecedented move, Sudarshan sat through a daylong meeting of the VHP’s high-powered Shriram Janmabhoomi Mandir Nirman Andolan Uchchaadhikar Samiti.

This was followed by a nearly three-hour meeting Sudarshan and Devi had with Vajpayee this evening at his residence. Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and BJP chief M. Venkaiah Naidu were also present.

“There are three ways of solving the Ayodhya issue. One is the court, the other negotiations, and the third, a consensus on legislation in Parliament. The government will consider the third option,” Devi said after the meeting. But before the government takes it up, the BJP would take up the matter at its national executive in Raipur on July 19 and 20, he added.

So far, the BJP had maintained that a legislation was impossible because the agenda of the National Democratic Alliance spoke of a court verdict or a negotiated settlement. Second, the party also lacked the requisite majority to pass such a bill.

It remains to be seen if the VHP’s demand finds a token acknowledgement in the shape of a resolution the BJP might adopt at its executive, stating it would enact an Ayodhya law if voted in with a majority, or go beyond it. BJP sources, however, maintained that there was “no question” of “sacrificing” the NDA government and going to polls without the allies.

Devi said Vajpayee was told the VHP must not be isolated in future endeavours and that the temple construction would begin on the same spot that housed the sanctum sanctorum of Ram Lalla, though this is considered “disputed”. These sweeteners for the VHP were balanced by a disapproval of its clamour for Vajpayee’s resignation. “To seek the resignation of a democratically-elected PM is not right,” Devi said.

That the RSS’ efforts had borne some fruit was apparent at a news conference today when VHP working president Ashok Singhal denied having asked for Vajpayee’s resignation and its vice-president, Acharya Giriraj Kishore, chose to be cryptic. “Today I will not open my mouth,” said the man who had articulated the demand again and again on television.

However, the VHP — which released a resolution adopted at its meeting yesterday — made it clear that the Kashi and Mathura mosques were non-negotiable.

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