Justice Liberhan Commission report puts BJP in quandary

The panel is said to have indicted senior BJP leader L K Advani

Justice Liberhan Commission report puts BJP in quandary


 Already down in the dumps following successive electoral setbacks, be it the Lok Sabha or the recent Assembly elections, the BJP has been dealt another blow in the form of the Liberhan Commission's report.

 The report of the commission, which went into the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, is said to have indicted several top leaders of the BJP, including Lok Sabha Opposition Leader L K Advani and several other party seniors. It does not indict former prime minister A B Vajpayee but holds him indirectly responsible for creating communal hatred before the December 6, 1992, razing of the mosque.
 The panel, whose report came after 17 years and an unprecedented 48 extensions, did not target P V Narasimha Rao, who was prime minister when the mosque was demolished. It said the Congress government of Rao believed in the "false promises" made by the BJP and its UP government (headed by Kalyan Singh) that the Babri Masjid would not be demolished. “The Central government  was `day-dreaming,’ " the report said.

 The report, which was leaked to a section of the media, said "the executive, political class and bureaucracy took no effective measures to prevent the demolition or to arrest the perpetrators" and called the razing of the Masjid as "one of the most abhorrent acts in the history of the nation."

 Justice Liberhan is said to have found Vajpayee’s statements culpable of leading the country to the brink of communal discord. While severely criticising Kalyan Singh, besides Advani and Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray and a host of others, the report indicates that Vajpayee's absence during the demolition was pre-planned. Vajpayee, who made a speech in Lucknow two days ahead of the Babri fall, which the report was understood to have referred to, said he was kept away from the demolition site deliberately, to “preserve secular credentials."

 As the leaked report created a furore in Parliament on Monday, the Congress seemed to be sitting pretty perhaps “enjoying” the discomfiture of the BJP.
 The setback to the BJP comes close on the heels of the party’s series of defeats in Lok Sabha elections as well as those of assembly polls in three states, including Maharashtra and Haryana, not to speak of the drubbing it received in last fortnight’s Uttar Pradesh byelections. The BJP is in such a hopeless position that it cannot even to turn this seemingly anti-demolition report into its advantage.

 The leak comes two days ahead of the Jharkhand Assembly elections. However, a good show by the BJP there cannot be counted as a fallout of the report because the party did well in the state in the Lok Sabha elections, winning 8 of the 12 seats it contested out of the total 14 (it also secured 27.5 per cent of the votes).
 The Congress still has time—six months from the date when Liberhan submitted report on June 30—to table the commission report along with the action taken report (ATR).
 Party sources say the ATR may just be a status report—mentioning the FIRs, the charge sheets and the progress of cases in different courts—and not take any politically loaded action. “The Congress has nothing to lose and it wants to further weaken the BJP but only on the electoral arena. We are in a win-win situation because we have not only already paid the price for the Babri demolition but also are showing signs of coming back in UP,” said senior a senior Congress MP.

 A BJP leader noted that there was nothing in the report for the BJP to use to its advantage. It cannot convert the report to build a hardline Hindutva platform because the recent elections have shown that there is no space for it. “Our protests now are only an exhibition of bravado for a couple of days. At the most, this may help us to forget our internal fissures,” remarked a senior BJP leader.

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