Thursday, November 26, 2009

Liberhaan.................... GHOST why now

Six mysteries behind 'leaked' and tabled Babri report
The leaked report of the Liberhan Commission of Inquiry that went into the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, has thrown up a few disturbing questions. While politicians debate the veracity of the leak and the contents, we look beyond the report that has generated heat in the winter session of Parliament. Here are some questions and implications:

1.Who leaked the Liberhan Commission Report?

This will remain a mystery. There is only one copy of the report and that is with Home Minister P Chidambaram. He has thrown up his hands saying that his office did not leak the report. But if the leaked report turns out to be true, then Chidambaram should own up responsibility. It is like a jail superintendent saying he was not manning the gate when a high profile criminal escaped and so he should not be held responsible.

Said Chidambaram: "I must be a very foolish man to leak it and embarrass myself". Well, that is what has happened. He has embarrassed himself and the government. But will he explain how the leak took place from the high security Home Ministry?

Bottomline: Chidambaram is responsible for the leakage.

2.Why did the government delay tabling of the report?

This is the second big mystery. The Liberhan Commission was appointed on December 16, 1992, exactly 10 days after the Babri Majid demolition. M S Liberhan was then a sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The commission took 16 years to submit the 900 page report spending Rs 8 crore, making it the longest and costliest enquiry in the history of independent India. The report was submitted on June 30, 2009, to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Even after over four months, the government has not yet tabled the report along with the promised Action Taken Report (ATR). Why?

All that the government has done is to lock up the `costly' report and then allowed a selective leak from its high security vaults. After all the heat and dust over the leak, the Government has promised to table the report.
Bottomline: The government should table the report immediately and clear the air. It the original report tallies with the leaked report, the government will be in for more embarrassment on the floor of the Parliament.

3. Why was the report leaked?

There are four theories: to win back the minority vote in Uttar Pradesh where the Congress seems to have gained a political toe-hold.

Theory number 2: To put the BJP on the back foot ahead of the polls in Jharkhand.
Theory number 3: To divert the attention of the public from growing price rise of commodities which the UPA government is not able to control. Of late, even allies like the Trinamool Congress and DMK have joined the Opposition in flaying the government over price rise of vegetables, foodgrain and oil.
Theory number 4: The BJP is already on a weak wicket driven to all sides by strong ideological pulls and pressures. One more blow on the BJP's nose is worth attempting. And so why not target their poster boy Atal Bihari Vajpayee?
Bottomline: There seems to be an agenda behind the leak.

4. Was it is fair to drag in former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee?

There are two versions of the leaked report. One says that Vajpayee was indicted and other says he was also responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Whether he is indicted or guilty is not the question. The big question is how can the commission pass a finding against a man who was not even called before the panel to give his version? Section 8(B) of the Commission of Inquiry, 1952, clearly states that nobody can be indicted in absentia. If the commission felt that Vajpayee had a hand in the demolition, he should have been examined. In fact, the commission had rejected an application to examine Vajpayee. In its order of June 22, 2003, the commission had said that examining Vajpayee was unnecessary as he had nothing to do with the demolition.
Bottomline: Looks like Vajpayee was deliberately targeted. This move may boomerang as the BJP may rally round their tallest leader.

5. Was the commission soft on the then prime minister P V Narasimha Rao?

The commission seems to have dealt former prime minster P V Narasimha Rao with kids' gloves. He was the PM when the demolition took place. The commission just said that Rao was `daydreaming' when the run up to the demolition was taking place. And then the commission itself gives an explanation: that he (PV) did not have the powers to dismiss the BJP government under Kalyan Singh in Uttar Pradesh because the Governor had not given a report of a breakdown of the law and order machinery. The commission states that the Babri demolition was well planned and a pre-meditated act. If so, what was the Intelligence Bureau doing? Did they not get the picture right and brief the PM? Eventually, Rao did dismiss the Kalayan Singh government, but based on IB reports he could have prevented the demolition. So, in a way was he not responsible?

Bottomline: PV Narasimha Rao has been let off very lightly. This is likely to become a big issue as the Samajwadi Party has already indicated that Rao was indeed responsible for the mess.

6. Is the report a setback for the BJP?

Yes. The party will have to do a lot of explanation to win back minority support. But we may also see a consolidation happening within the BJP. Feuding leaders may close ranks and rally around L K Advani. The RSS may play a major role. Will this lead to the Hindutva agenda? Very unlikely as the temple issue is a dead currency now. But it will be a setback for the Samajwadi Party because they have kalian Singh in their ranks. The SP may dump him.

Babri Masjid controversy in a nutshell

1986: District judge unlocks gates at disputed site in Ayodhya, allowing Hindus to worship. Muslims form Babri Mosque Action Committee.

1989: VHP lays foundation for temple on land adjacent to disputed mosque.

1990: L K Advani takes out Rath Yatra. Arrested in Samastipur, Bihar, by Lalu Prasad Yadav govt.

1991: BJP comes to power in Uttar Pradesh.

Dec 6, 1992: Mosque demolished. Riots erupt across India.

Dec 16: Narasimha Rao govt announces Justice M S Liberhan Commission to inquire into conspiracy to demolish the mosque.

March 1993: Liberhan Commission begins probe.

1998: BJP-led NDA forms govt at Centre; wins again in 1999.

Feb 2002: BJP skips temple promise in manifesto for UP elections.

Feb-March 2002: Riots in Gujarat. Clashes after a train carrying devotees from Ayodhya burnt at Godhra.

2004: Congress-led UPA forms government.

2005: Militants attack disputed site.

June 30, 2009: 17 years and 400 sittings later, Liberhan panel submits report.

Nov 23, 2009: Liberhan Commisison report finds its way to the media as Indian Express publishes excerpts. Uproar in Parliament. Both Houses adjourned for the day.

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