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A specious interjection

WITH HIS ``DISCLOSURE'' of information about a low intensity blast having brought down the Babri Masjid (rather than the storm troopers of the Sangh Parivar), the RSS chief, Mr. K. Sudarshan, is playing the now familiar game of the Sangh Parivar; to say different things at the same time. This, indeed, was evident when the Bajrang Dal chief, Mr. Vinay Katiyar, reacted, almost instantly, to reiterate that the Babri Masjid was demolished by the `kar sevaks' on December 6, 1992. The summons by the Justice M. S. Liberhan Commission of Enquiry to Mr. Sudarshan for his deposition must, in the normal course, help in ensuring the veracity of the RSS chief's claims; after Mr. Sudarshan made a statement where he had implicated even the Prime Minister of the day, Mr. P. V. Narasimha Rao, the Commission of Enquiry could not have shut its eyes. The summons in that sense is only legitimate. It is another matter that such an interjection and that too eight years after the Commission was constituted and when charges have been framed against almost all those accused in the case - including Mr. L. K. Advani, Dr. M. M. Joshi and Ms. Uma Bharti - in the CBI Special Court can only be seen as dilatory tactics.

The Liberhan Commission of Enquiry has also summoned Mr. Advani, Dr. Joshi and Mr. Narasimha Rao to depose before it. There are indications that the Commission's inquest is in its final stages. Insofar as there is scope for enquiring into broader aspects of the demolition, particularly the political dimensions of the incident, it is imperative for Mr. Advani, Dr. Joshi and others to depose and allow themselves to be cross-examined. It is in this context that the remarks by Mr. Sudarshan and the decision by the Commission to ask for his deposition as well as by Mr. Narasimha Rao assumes significance. The CBI Special Court, after all, will have to restrict itself to the criminality of the December 6, 1992, events; and considering the fact that the point at issue is not just the actual act of the demolition but many other aspects involving the pluralist and democratic fabric of the society, the inquest by Mr. Justice Liberhan becomes important.

Be that as it may, it is clear that the RSS chief's public utterances fit into a definite pattern. The leaders of the BJP, particularly those in the local rungs of the organisation, as well as the various other Sangh Parivar outfits were engaged, all these years, in claiming credit for having brought down the structure. The party's functionaries had gone about seeking a mandate from the people, particularly during the State Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajastan and Himachal Pradesh (November 1993) to ``complete what was left unfinished on December 6, 1992''. The top leaders of the BJP no doubt appeared ambivalent about the demolition as such (even while letting their local leaders describe the demolition as an achievement) but all of them were categorical about their ``commitment'' to build the temple at the site where the Masjid stood. And this, indeed, was the message that Mr. Vajpayee sought to send to his cadre through his December 6, 2000, statement that ``the demand for the building of a Ram temple was the expression of nationalist feelings''.

Mr. Sudarshan's claim that the demolition was not the doing of the kar sevaks does not hold in this context. There is no way that the RSS and the leaders of its various arms - the VHP, the Bajrang Dal and even the BJP - can be absolved of their role in not just the demolition but also in the fratricidal violence witnessed across the country in the aftermath of the demolition. And as for the leaders of the BJP, their role in whipping up sectarian passions during the mobilisation for the `kar seva' leading to the tragic denouement on December 6, 1992, cannot be dismissed as a mere ``accident'' as the BJP leaders chose to describe the vandalism indulged in by the hordes. It is necessary to look at Mr. Sudarshan's remarks in this larger context.

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