THE FOCUS OF UPA SHOULD HAVE BEEN ON ISSUES RELATING TO HOW SUCH INSTANCES OF MAYHEM CAN BE AVERTED IN THE FUTURE, RATHER THAN RAKING UP A NEARLY TWO-DECADE-OLD BABRI ISSUE!
The recent controversy regarding the submission of the Liberhan Report and the leakage of the name of the former Prime Minister Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee as being one of those indicted in the report, has undoubtedly started the kind of furore and controversy that could have been well avoided by the government. Needless to say that it has again united all the ranks and fi les of the Sangh Parivar that is vying for a major face-off with the government over the manner in which such a confidential report was leaked to the press even before it was even tabled in the Parliament. Eyebrows and conspiracy theories would invariably be raised over the timing of the submission of the report and the systematic manner in which the name of Vajpayee has been leaked.
The Babri Masjid demolition is undoubtedly one of the most unfortunate incidents that have happened in the history of modern India. It was something that should have been avoided. But then, that’s just one side of the incident! The other side of it is the manner in which such a significant incident was probed! Justice Liberhan took a staggering 17 years to probe the case! Although this should not shock anyone as the history of commissions in India is not something worth talking about (well, remember what has been the fate of the Sri Krishna Commission set up in 1992-93 over the Mumbai riots?). In a democracy like India, the easiest way to calm down the public angst over such politically instigated shameful incidents is to appoint some retired High Court or Supreme Court judge to head a commission, and then spend hundreds of crores on an investigation, the findings of which may or may not be accepted purely at the prerogative of the government. It goes without saying that most of the time after the cursory fanfare revolving around the photo-shoot and press coverage during the submission of the reports, almost all the reports face the same fate of gathering dust in some corner. But then, Babri Masjid was not like any other case – it was a blatant blot on the face of the Indian democracy; and that’s why it should have been probed immediately by imparting justice on the perpetrators, irrespective of whosoever they were. That did not happen.
The bigger question is about why the UPA has picked up the issue at this point in time! Of course, with time, Babri Masjid has taken a backseat in the people’s memory, even in those who were the most affected. Today, India has gone far ahead in terms of economic and social reforms. The common man is too busy worrying about rising prices and threats of terrorism to think about Babri. So why now?
No doubt, many more people than meets the eye were involved in the harrowing demolition act with their commissions and omissions. But the way the then government of Narasimha Rao has been given a clean chit by the report – while indicting Vajpayee – definitely raises questions! In fact, interestingly, the submission of this report coincides with the fresh success that the Congress is getting in UP and the political fortune that it is seeking over there in the near future. And if that is the intent, then I must say that things can go horribly wrong for UPA! As this report – which is clearly aimed at galvanizing the minority vote-bank and woo them away from Samajwadi Party and BSP – might also just prove counterproductive for UPA if the BJP is successful in using the Vajpayee sympathy cause in the right manner. It is quite clear as to who all have been named in the report. But clearly, given the political heavyweights involved in it, and going by past precedence, even the UPA would not have the conviction to arrest Advani or any other leader of that stature. And this probably would become counterproductive for the Congress and would help BJP consolidate its saffron vote-bank. Probably this is the last opportunity for the BJP – an opportunity it has been eyeing for long to bounce back from the fringes that it had pushed itself into. Even Mulayam Singh is itching to cement his party’s position by again playing around the minority card using the Liberhan report as the base.
All in all, if UPA’s calculation in terms of the timing of this report goes wrong, then they solely would be responsible for bringing back the ugly face of communalism into Indian politics, at the same time not only weakening their own alliance, but also opening a window of opportunity for those opportunistic political parties who are struggling currently. In fact, it is foolish that rather than concentrating on the good work that has already been done by the UPA and further building upon it, the alliance is instead focusing on digging the nightmarish past and fuelling mayhem all over again! On the eve of the first anniversary of 26/11, the whole focus of the government should have been on issues relating to how such instances of mayhem can be averted in the future, than on raking up a nearly two-decade-old issue on which the hope of getting justice is at best non-existent.
- 26 November 2009 |
- Arindam on Indian Politics