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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

Ayodhya: 6 December 1992

By: PV Narasimha RaoPublication: Penguin Books India ISBN: 0-67-005858-0 Price: Rs 395 Pages: 317

india Updated: Oct 28, 2006 17:26 IST


I cannot count how many people, both friends and opponents, have hurled at me the question, "why did you not impose President's Rule in Uttar Pradesh in order to save the Babri Masjid from Vandalism on December 6 1992?"  Indeed this question must be examined…

PV Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister of India when, in December 1992, Kar Sevaks, flouting a Supreme Court order stormed into Ayodhya in thousands.

On 6 December, to the horror of the entire nation, they attacked the Babri Masjid and began to demolish the structure.

The communal riots that followed ripped apart the secular fabric of the nation. Even today, the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute has not been resolved, and Ayodhya remains a hotbed of political intrigue and communal tension.

The Author

Pamulaparti Venkata Narasimha Rao was born in Karimnagar in the erstwhile state of Hyderabad in June 1921.

After playing a part in Hyderabad's Independence movement, he served as a Congress minister in Andhra Pradesh, and became chief minister of the state in 1971.

In 1977, he was elected to the Lok Sabha, and went on to hold several cabinet posts under Indira and Rajiv Gandhi, including those of Foreign and Home Minister.

After Rajiv Gandhi's assassination in 1991, Rao was chosen to lead the Congress party and became the Prime Minister of India.

Could nothing have been done to prevent what happened at Ayodhya on 6 December 1992? Why did the Union government take no action when the kar sevaks were flouting a Supreme Court order?

Why were the paramilitary forces not deployed to protect the Babri Masjid when it was under imminent threat?

Why did the state government of Uttar Pradesh not intervene in any way, and why did senior BJP leaders watch helplessly even as the mosque was being torn down? And why did it take so long for President's rule to be imposed in the State?

Ayodhya: 6 December 1992 records Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao's view of what really happened at Ayodhya and why.

Comparing the 6 December 1992 incident with the unsuccessful attack on the Babri Masjid by Kar Sevaks in 1990 (when Mulayam Singh Yadav was Chief Minister of UP and a Janata Dal government ruled at the Centre), Rao discloses in no uncertain terms how the issue of building a Ram Mandir at Ayodhya was politicised for electoral benefit.

Discussing Article 356 of the Constitution at length, he explains why it was inadvisable to place UP under President's Rule.

Drawing on the Supreme Court order, parliamentary proceedings, eyewitness reports and his own political insights, he presents a comprehensive account of the machinations that led to the attack on the Babri Masjid, and indicates who might have gained from it, and how.

The purpose of this factual account is to unravel the truth about the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid, which has determined the politics of a major part of Northern India since the mid-1980s, although the matter itself is much older.

It is essentially a religious matter that has been blatantly exploited for political, more precisely electoral, purposes.

Religious emotion has been made to sway the electorate in the Lok Sabha elections of 1989 and 1991, and Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat etc.

This true account may perhaps be too late in the day to be of any political value - the purpose of the disinformation having been achieved already in some elections.

Yet if it is possible to re-separate religious and electoral politics even after two or three mishaps, it will be of great service to the secular polity of India and an eye-opener to the people.