By this month-end, the brass of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and representatives of all its affiliates, including the Bharatiya Janata Party, will meet at Jalgaon in Maharashtra to discuss the Sangh Parivar's strategy on key issues such as Ayodhya and Kashmir.

The RSS is expected to announce a public contact programme on Ayodhya that will be “along the lines indicated by the Sarsanghchalak [the chief] who spoke about reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims after the Ayodhya judgment,” a functionary of the organisation said.

It would seem that the RSS is keen on having the Ayodhya issue settled out of court now that the Allahabad High Court verdict had shown the direction, informed sources in the RSS indicated here on Thursday. It is not too happy that parties to the dispute — Hindu as well as Muslim — have decided to appeal in the Supreme Court. The RSS would rather negotiate a settlement “in the direction shown” by the High Court verdict. By the “direction shown,” the RSS clearly meant the “legal” recognition of the disputed spot as the birthplace of Ram.

It seems a small committee of authorised and influential RSS leaders has been set up to make contact with the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board to conduct negotiations “behind the curtains,” for anything done under the glare of the media cannot be successful, the sources said.

The Jalgaon meeting of the RSS Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal is to take place from October 28 to 31. So far, the indications are that while the RSS would like to stick to the stand indicated by the so-called Ucch Adhikar Samiti (a high-level committee of sants mentored by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad) that the Ram temple complex in Ayodhya must cover all of the roughly 67 acres of land acquired by the Centre in 1993, it may be willing to give some assurance — unlike the Samiti — that no future Mandir-Masjid dispute will be raised in Kashi and Mathura.

It was admitted that in fact the lack of such an assurance — sought by Muslim groups in 2003 — prevented an agreement on Ayodhya that the then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had tried to bring about.

Of course, it is also admitted that even if such an assurance was forthcoming, it would give nothing away to the minority community as Kashi and Mathura are covered by the Places of Worship Act that prohibits and takes beyond the purview of courts any change in the nature of the place of worship. Under that law, a Hindu temple will remain one, a mosque will remain a place of worship for Muslims and a gurdwara or church will remain what they were in 1950 when India became a Republic.

The RSS is keen on negotiations with Muslims as it wants them to give up even the one-third of the disputed land, on which the Babri Masjid stood, awarded to them by the High Court. And it wants to concede nothing to them, except that Muslims can build a mosque, if they want to, “across the Saryu river” that would be outside the municipal limits of Ayodhya.

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