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BJP in dilemma over Liberhan panel debate

delhi Updated: Nov 29, 2009 23:30 IST
Shekhar Iyer

Aggressive or soft “Hindutva”? The issue that has been plaguing the BJP after its poor showing in the Lok Sabha polls will play up again this week, as Parliament gets ready to debate the Liberhan panel report.

The report on the demolition of the Babri mosque was tabled in the House on November 24, a day after it found its way into a section of media.

A group of leaders, led by party chief Rajnath Singh, is for an aggressive position on the Ram temple issue, which should please the party’s ideological front the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS).

Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani and his lieutenants, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, however, are for demolishing the report for its “ridiculous” indictment of former prime minister A.B. Vajpayee and “bizarre” recommendations.

The LoK Sabha will debate the report on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Rajya Sabha will take it up on December 7, a day and 17 years after the mosque was demolished.

Advani, among the top BJP leaders indicted by Justice M.S. Liberhan, may speak before the home minister replies to the debate.

But Singh is expected to strike hard as the RSS sees the issue as “a matter of Hindu faith”. Singh would like to signal that he still enjoys the confidence of the RSS, more so as and the issue of Advani’s successor in the Lok Sabha has still not been settled in Swaraj’s favour, BJP sources said.

“It is our nishtha (vow) and aastha (aspiration) to build a grand temple in Ayodhya and there is no mai ka lal (person on earth) who can come in the way,” he had said at a party meet on February 7.

He may not use the same language, but will be hawkish, said BJP sources.

Party colleague Murli Manohar Joshi will go for a more balanced approach. A consensus should be built on the temple, he said on Sunday.

Arun Jaitley, who will initiate the debate in the Rajya Sabha, said he had been studying the 1,000-odd page report. “But I’m not sure whether I should take the serious route to expose its ridiculous conclusions or prefer the lighter approach to show how Liberhan tried to fool all of us.”

Jaitley is for a moderate approach, especially after some leaders blamed harsh ‘Hindutva’ line for the Lok Sabha debacle.