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Advani’s double-speak on Ayodhya
By PM Damodaran, Lucknow

Two things have come to light in the deposition of the Union Home Minister, Mr LK Advani, before the Liberhan Commission on the demolition of the Babri Mosque. One, Mr. Advani was ‘pained’ and had become ‘sad’ at the demolition of the mosque by the kar sewaks on 6 December 1992 but he was not ready to condemn it. Second, the Home Minister considered the structure as a ‘temple’ and that the de facto temple standing on the site of the demolished mosque had now become a de jure temple.

Mr. Advani deposed before the Commission that ‘I have seldom felt so ‘dejected’ and ‘downcast’ as I felt that day (6 December 1992)’. But how far he really subscribed to these views is known from his own statement in Panchjanya of 24 January 1993 when he wrote ‘I am not ashamed about what happened on December 6. I don’t regret the demolition for which such a hue and cry should be made.’ How contradictory these two statements are? But when the counsel for the Commission sought a comment on his statement in Panchjanya, Mr. Advani ducked the question. Besides, on several occasions, he had publicly stated that there was no need for regretting the demolition.

Mr. Advani apparently did not tell the whole truth before the Commission. If he was really pained at the demolition of the mosque as he claims now, then why he set in motion the process of the kar sewa programme for the construction of the temple? Moreover, why he and the VHP collected lakhs of kar sewaks in Ayodhya if the plan was only for a ‘symbolic’ kar sewa? Earlier in 1990 Mr. Advani had undertaken the rath yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya for the cause of the temple. The signal from him and the Sangh Parivar was too obvious to be missed by the kar sewaks who took the law into their own hands on 6 December and demolished the mosque.

Significantly, a few days before the demolition of the mosque, Mr. Advani had threatened in public in Kanpur and Allahabad that the kar sewa in Ayodhya on 6 December might not be ‘symbolic.’ Moreover, in his utterances before and after the demolition, the BJP leader had been maintaining the stand that the faith is above courts and that courts cannot give judgement on matters of faith.

Besides, if he had faith in the investigation why he tried to avoid appearing before the commission for a long time? He was first served a notice to appear before the Commission at the end of December last year. Despite repeated notices issued to him to appear before the Commission in January and March this year, he avoided doing so giving pre-occupation in the government work as the reason!

Mr. Advani maintained that ‘what stands at Ayodhya is a temple.’ He said that there stood ‘first a de facto temple, and today both a de facto and de jure temple. This is not something which anyone else but the court has decided.’ But the facts are against his contentions. None of the courts, be the sub-judge, Faizabad; district judge, Faizabad; chief judge, Awadh; Allahabad High Court or the Supreme Court had ever maintained that the disputed structure was a temple.

In fact, a Supreme Court bench in the case in 1994 had observed ‘mosque was demolished by the miscreants and they were not representatives of Hindus, but criminals.’ Mr. Advani himself in his deposition at one moment had pointed out that the government’s white paper had referred to the disputed structure neither as a temple or a mosque. A pertinent question arises as to why the kar sewaks demolished the disputed structure if it was a temple!

Expectedly, Muslim organizations and the leaders and the opposition parties have condemned the views expressed by Mr Advani during his deposition before the Commission. The All India Babri Masjid Action Committee has disputed the claim of Mr Advani that there is already a ‘de facto’ and ‘de jure’ temple in Ayodhya. Its convener, Mr. Zafaryab Jilani pointed out quoting official records, that neither any court nor the government white paper had described the disputed structure as a temple.

Condemning Mr. Advani’s statement as ‘usurpation’ of the judicial authority, the Babri Masjid Movement Coordination Committee convener, Syed Shahabuddin, said that ‘no criminal trespass and subsequent unlawful occupation which is under legal challenge, can destroy the title of the original owner (of the land)’. Delhi Jama Masjid Imam Syed Ahmad Bukhari said that the Home Minister’s remarks were basically a ‘denial of the supremacy of law.’

The main opposition party, the Congress described Mr. Advani’s testimony as ‘polished falsehood and doublespeak.’ The party spokesman, Mr S Jaipal Reddy said that in expressing regrets at the demolition, Advani was only shedding crocodile tears. Mr. Reddy said that Mr. Advani’s presentation before the Commission ‘is a classic case of the main conspirator posing like a helpless spectator!’ The General Secretary of the CPI(M) Mr. Harkishan Singh Surjeet, on the other hand alleged that through Mr. Advani’s comments, the BJP was sowing the seeds of communal division. The BSP vice-president, Ms. Mayawati, asked why Mr. Advani did not condemn the demolition if he felt that the act carried out by the kar sewaks was illegal? 

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