As it became clear that the government would not initiate fresh action against those indicted by the Liberhan Committee report, the BJP, robbed of an emotive issue on which to peg its revival, went into attack mode.
Senior party leaders, who met twice in Parliament House to thrash out a strategy, decided to focus its attack on two flanks:
It would target Home Minister P. Chidambaram for allegedly leaking the report to the media, thus, taking the focus away from its findings, which indicted practically the entire pantheon of the Sangh Parivar; and n It would trash the report for indicting former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for his alleged role in the demolition of the Babri Masjid, thus, calling into question its credibility. Vajpayee was not even present in Ayodhya when the mosque was demolished by frenzied kar sevaks. Sushma Swaraj, senior BJP leader and deputy leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, fired the first shot when she demanded that Chidambaram resign, taking blame for the leak of the report.
“I reiterate my allegation that the report was not leaked from the home ministry but by the home minister himself,” she said.
Taking this line of attack further, BJP president Rajnath Singh demanded a CBI probe into the leakage of the Liberhan Committee Report. His party colleague Murli Manohar Joshi, meanwhile, wanted a Joint Parliamentary Committee(JPC) to go into the issue.
BJP leaders could not hide their glee at the report indicting Vajpayee.Initiating a sharp attack on Liberhan, Swaraj said: “The findings of this report are perverse, ill-founded and against the evidence placed before the Commission.”
She said the report also violated the principles of natural justice. “If there was any doubt in the mind of Justice Liberhan about the involvement of Vajpayee, he should have summoned him,” she thundered.
Then, common refrain among the party leaders was: “What’s new in it (the report)?”
“Everyone knows we mobilised public opinion through our campaign for the Ram temple,” said Joshi.
During the day, rebel BJP leaders Kalyan Singh and Uma Bharati, both of who are trying to re-enter the party, also defended their roles in the demolition of the Babri Masjid.