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Now you see, now you don’t
By Md. Zeyaul Haque

The Sangh’s ever shifting stance and contradictory statements make it impossible for common citizens to have a clear picture of crucial issues like Gujarat and Ayodhya.

Singhspeak:
In this picture taken as a Babri dome fell, Ms Bharati claimed before Liberhan Commission, she was trying to touch Dr Joshi’s feet.

Union Home Minister L K Advani startled everyone on June 16 when he declared in Ahmedabad that "no one" had ever claimed that Godhra was a "terrorist attack". This is exactly what his partymen in Ahmedabad and elsewhere had been telling since February 27—that the Godhra attack was the handiwork of Muslim terrorists trained by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

This is what Narendra Modi and his ministers had been telling people. Even George Fernandes had been seeing Pakistani hand behind it. In this Mr Advani seemed to agree with Mr Fernandes, though Mr Advani’s junior colleague Omar Abdullah did not see any Pakistani hand. Independent observers failed to see any ISI instigation and none of the Sangh leaders and their fellow travellers bothered to substantiate the charge. 

Since then, the Sangh has been changing tune everyday. Gujarat Minister of State for Home played a distinctly different tune from Mr Advani’s when he declared in the early days of the pogrom that "bogey burning is a terrorist act similar to the attack on the American Centre in Kolkatta. The culprits in both the cases are the same". And today Mr Advani tells us that no one had ever claimed that Godhra was a terrorist attack.

There are two things to note here. First, the hurry to attach everything to the American-led global campaign against terror and use the new American doctrine against all Muslims, including Indian Muslims. The second is a clever play at words: "The culprits in both the cases are the same." Here "the same" does not mean the same individuals were responsible for both Godhra and Kolkatta American Centre attacks, but that the attackers in both cases were Muslims. Accordingly, the Sangh led the attack against all Muslims, which included a former MP, a former judge and a sitting judge of the Gujarat High Court. 

Now, suddenly we are told by Mr Advani himself that it was not a terrorist attack. Assiduously cultivated inconsistency and unpredictability are part of the Sangh’s strategy. One individual of the Sangh would say one thing while another would say something entirely different. An individual can also say contradictory things at different times. The Prime Minister’s changing statements on Gujarat are a case in point.

All this makes it extremely difficult for non-Sangh persons to work with them in areas like conflict resolution and national reconciliation. It is this trait of the Sangh which, more than anything else, makes the Ayodhya issue intractable. 

That reminds me of a remark made by the late Congress leader Pandit Kamlapati Tripathi at Faizabad (Ayodhya’s twin town) in 1989 at the height of the Sangh’s campaign. In the autumn of that year, a belligerent Sangh had built up anti-Muslim hysteria all over north India. The occasion was shilanayas (foundation stone laying) for a grand Ram temple to be built at the site where the Babri Masjid stood. Naturally, there was a lot of tension all around, and Congress governments at the Centre and in Lucknow were quite worried. At that time I happened to be there, along with the entire national and international media.

At Faizabad Circuit House, the octogenarian Tripathiji demanded that he be taken to Ayodhya. The district magistrate (with the district police chief in attendance) requested him not to go to Ayodhya because everything was being well taken care of there. "No, I must go there. They are out to break the mosque", Pandit Tripathi snapped back.

At this point he was told that Ashok Singhal had assured ND Tiwari in Lucknow that his karsevaks would not touch the Babri Masjid. Th old Congressman was not convinced. "I don’t believe the Sangh. They speak with a forked tongue," Pandit Tripathi shot back.

He went on to explain that assurances coming from the Sangh did not amount to anything as they were not known to honour their word because "woh domuhe hain" (they are double-faced). The eventual destruction of the mosque and a spate of anti-Muslim riots have vindicated the late Panditji.

The latest about-turn in the Sangh’s stance on Ayodhya further confirms what Panditji said about the Sangh. The Sangh had committed to honour law, and stand by court verdict on Ayodhya only in March. The newspapers of June 22 have prominently displayed reports on the Sangh’s volte face at Hardwar. Ashok Singhal has gone back on his word and is reported to have declared that VHP would not honour any court verdict.

As VHP cocks a snooks at India’s Constitution and rule of law, the NDA government in New Delhi, led by another wing of the Sangh, BJP, says that it does not subscribe to VHP’s views on this issue. All this is being said in perfect tandem, and the left hand of the Sangh very well knows what the right hand is up to. Tomorrow the BJP’s stance is surely going to change. Can one ever think of a better example of speaking with a forked tongue?
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