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AYODHYA

RSS strategy hopes to capture hearts, power

RAJESH RAMACHANDRAN

Wednesday 27 August 2003, by RAMACHANDRAN*Rajesh

NEW DELHI: The Sangh Parivar politics of symbolism that polarised the north Indian polity has got a shot in the arm with the Archaeological Survey of India’s findings underlining its claims of a temple beneath the demolished Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.

The top leadership of the RSS is expected to meet this weekend to decide on a future course of action. The Sangh agenda appears to be two-pronged: to talk about a negotiated settlement as well as begin "a massive popular movement" that could be converted into a political programme for the BJP.

The Parivar is now expected to lob the Ayodhya ball into the political court compelling political parties to spell out their stand on the ASI’s findings. "Now it is no longer the responsibility of the BJP alone. All the parties should make it clear whether they respect the ASI’s verdict or not," RSS spokesman Ram Madhav told The Times of India.

Madhav reminded that in the funeral meeting of VHP leader Paramahans Ramchandra Das, the RSS chief KS Sudarshan had spoken about a pan-Indian movement wherein every party would have to state its stand on the Ram temple issue.

In the wake of the ASI findings, the Sangh Parivar is looking at a golden opportunity to launch yet again a movement that might consolidate the Hindutva forces in the political arena as well as re-capture the upper caste core constituency in the Gangetic plains.

And even the Parivar’s win-win negotiated settlement would have only one solution: the entire dispute area to be set aside for the temple without foregoing its claims on Kashi and Mathura.

"For us negotiated settlement always meant getting the entire area. Let us all come together to construct the temple. This time the initiative should come from well meaning Muslim leaders", said Madhav, who pointed out that if the negotiated settlement does not happen, "we will always have the option of going to the people to create a massive popular movement to facilitate a legislative solution."

According to insiders, the Parivar might like to involve the Rajya Sabha probables, religious leader Maulana Wahidudin Khan and Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s grandson, the industrialist Nusli Wadia in this process of negotiation with the Muslim community.

But, no Muslim leader is expected to sign dotted lines, a one-sided "negotiated settlement" that might antagonise the entire community, which again leaves scope only for another round of political polarisation by the Parivar.

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