The Congress could have a hard time defending P.V Narasimha Rao during the Lok Sabha debate on the Liberhan Commission report on December 1. Rao was the prime minister when the Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992.
Grilled about Rao’s role during the demolition, spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said the poser was a case of “mixing the tail with the body ‘’and reflected the BJP’s attempt to deflect its own role by pointing to the Centre. “The Centre has no power to intervene in the state,’’ he said.
He added that if the Supreme Court could be misled by then chief minister Kalyan Singh about protecting the structure, so could the Centre.
The Congress denied suggestions that it must own moral responsibility, alleging that the blame was being shifted to an innocent “bystander.’’
Off-record, however, Congress leaders admit that the former prime minister had failed to prevent vandalisation of the structure. “But we cannot say this officially,’’ said a leader who did not want to be quoted.
Will the Congress politically gain from tabling the report which indicted senior BJP, VHP and RSS leaders?
The Congress is hoping that the muslim vote that started shifting to it will consolidate in its favour and it would reclaim support of the upper castes, Muslims and Dalits. But parties like Samajwadi Party or Rashtriya Janata Dal are unlikely to give up without a fight.
But opinion in the Congress is divided on whether the BJP can use the report to once again polarize the polity, particularly in UP where the SP and the Bahujan Samaj Party would strive to woo the muslim vote and keep the Congress from recapturing its lost base. Unlike the BJP, the Congress is a bigger threat to these parties.
“The nasty face of communal politics may start,’’ a Congressman said. But the contrary view is that Hindutva has run its course and it will not be possible for the BJP to once again rake the temple issue.