The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ayodhya truce hunt minus Kanchi seer

New Delhi, Oct. 19: The Kanchi Sankaracharya is unlikely to be involved in future efforts to resolve the Ayodhya tangle, minister of state for home Swami Chinmayanand has said.

The minister also said fresh attempts have begun to take the issue forward from where it was left off by Swami Jayendra Saraswati in July. This time round, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das and Mahant Avaidyanath, religious leaders from Uttar Pradesh, would speak to Muslim representatives directly, he said.

Chinmayanand, mandated by the Centre to deal with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in the latest Ayodhya “crisis inspired by its sankalp sabha”, emphasised the government was not in the picture yet. It would step in “only when a concrete proposal which was mutually acceptable to Hindu and Muslim representatives emerged”, he said.

“In fact, both of them have already spoken to (representatives of) Muslims,” said Chinmayanand, a former member of the VHP’s Marg Darshak Mandal, set up to press lawmakers to facilitate Ram temple construction. He refused to say whether these were members of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and the All India Babri Masjid Action Committee, both of which have earlier negotiated with the VHP and the Centre’s interlocutors on their community’s behalf.

Chinmayanand would also not specify a timeframe for the start of the next round of talks. The present moment was “most suited” to resume the process, he said. “This time when the VHP carried out its programme, there was no protest from Muslims. They have got the message that it does not pay to be confrontationist forever. They have realised that the time has come to set things right.”

He refused to divulge the proposal or proposals the Centre has in mind, but said: “Suggestions are coming from various quarters. But if I disclose them, it will cause trouble.”

Nritya Gopal and Avaidyanath were put on the job apparently for various reasons. For one, Nritya Gopal is the convener of the VHP’s Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas that will oversee the construction of the proposed temple. He also has a more “moderate” image, even among Ayodhya’s Muslims, unlike his Nyas predecessor late Ramchandradas Paramhans. Shortly after he took over, Nritya Gopal made it a point to “advise” the VHP to soften its rhetoric and indicated he was ready to go half the way with the Centre on any formula in future.

His speeches from the parishad’s platform, on the rare occasions he has done so, have been softer. BJP sources believed he was thus “better placed” to co-opt the sadhus opposed to Ashok Singhal and his outfit.

Avaidyanath is the chief of Gorakhpur’s Gorakhpeeth temple and a former BJP MP.

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