Even as the government prepared for an all-party delegation to visit Jammu under Home Minister Shivraj Patil’s leadership on Saturday for a dialogue with the agitators, the BJP appeared to strike a hard line.
Senior leader LK Advani called up Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to convey that his party's cooperation would depend on the government initiating a dialogue with the Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti. The samiti is spearheading the agitation for restoration of 100 acres of land to the shrine board.
Advani told the PM that the BJP was “anxious about the dialogue process with the affected people and the sangharsh samiti. Any further cooperation of the BJP on the issue would be consequent to it”.
Earlier, Patil spoke to leaders, including the BJP’s Arun Jaitley, to join the delegation.
Senior BJP leaders met at Advani’s residence and decided to wait and see if the government shows interest in talking to the samiti.
The BJP would like to follow a dual approach on the Amarnath land row: lie low for a while to restore peace but not scale down a 3-day nationwide agitation to turn it into a national issue.
In fact, Advani is to lead party cadres in performing the Shiv Aradhana rituals on a fabricated ice shivling on Saturday at a BJP youth wing rally here.
The party wants to transform the issue into an Ayodhya-type sentimental campaign of injustice against Hindus that can help in elections, knowing well that the yatra ends on August 18 and the agitation in Jammu cannot be sustained thereafter unless it is turned into a national issue.
RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan flagged off a delegation of Muslim leaders from the Rashtravadi Muslim Manch, a Sangh-backed outfit, to campaign for peace in the trouble-torn state.