M A I N   N E W S

BJP leaders meet Kalam on seer issue
To launch nationwide stir today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 19
Sensing political fallout, the BJP today moved swiftly on the arrest of Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati as top party leaders, including former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, complained to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and announced staging of dharnas and fasts against the move of the Tamil Nadu government.

A BJP delegation, which also included party president L.K. Advani, sought evolving of “suitable guidelines” for dealing with cases in which religious personalities and institutions were involved.

“We are deeply concerned at the manner” in which the Shankaracharya has been arrested and “incarcerated” on allegations of a criminal case, a memorandum submitted by the delegation to the President said.

Noting that the party was not commenting on the merits of the case and that law, before which all citizens were equal, must take its course, the two-page memorandum signed by six top BJP leaders, said: “We share though the anguish and hurt sentiments of crores of Hindus of our country.”

Earlier, the party fielded its aggressive but articulate spokesperson Sushma Swaraj to announce the launch of a three-day nationwide stir from tomorrow against the police remand for the seer with Mr Vajpayee and Mr Advani planning a dharna and fast in the Capital.

Mrs Swaraj accused both Tamil Nadu Government and the Centre of “assaulting and insulting Hindu religion”.

Mr Advani will lead a day-long dharna and observe fast here tomorrow, followed by senior leaders Murli Manohar Joshi and Jaswant Singh on the subsequent days to protest against the seer being sent to three-day police custody.

Mr Vajpayee would join the stir on Monday, she said, adding that the decision was taken at a meeting of the party attended by the top leadership.

The party also decided that Mr Vajpayee and Mr Advani would meet the pontiff during his police custody, she said, adding that the BJP President was planning to do so on Sunday.

Mrs Swaraj, whose party fought the last Lok Sabha poll in alliance with the AIADMK, alleged that the Tamil Nadu Government’s motive was to “defame” the Shankaracharya “just because of votes”.

Meanwhile, the VHP also announced a two-day rally across the country from tomorrow.

Addressing a press conference, VHP working president Ashok Singhal held both the Tamil Nadu Government and the UPA government responsible for Shankaracharya’s arrest.

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