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Mayawati’s dilemma on prosecuting Advani, Joshi, Uma
By PM Damodaran, Lucknow

The Supreme Court directive to the Uttar Pradesh Government to take a decision on the revival of proceedings against the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. L.K. Advani and seven others, including two Union ministers Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi and Ms. Uma Bharati in the Ayodhya demolition case within eight weeks has put the Chief Minister Ms. Mayawati in a tight spot. If the Chief Minister gives the green signal to proceed against them, it will lead to the fall of Bharatiya Janata Party-Bahujan Samaj Party coalition government in the state. On the other hand, if Ms. Mayawati decides against the revival of proceedings, it will alienate the Muslims and the secular forces from the BSP. The BJP has, however, no other choice but to keep Ms. Mayawati in good humour during the next few weeks to save the skins of their leaders.

The Supreme Court on July 29 directed the U.P. government to take a final decision on the revival of proceedings against these BJP and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders within eight weeks. The apex court's directive had come on a writ petition filed by the noted journalist Mr. Kuldip Nayyar, Mohammad Aslam and a Delhi-based organisation, Society for Social Justice. The petitioners had challenged the Allahabad High Court order of February last year quashing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chargesheet against these leaders. The court had then quashed the trial of the accused on the ground that the notification issued by the U.P. government was defective and improper.

A case was filed against these eight accused soon after the demolition of the Babri Mosque structure in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992. But the CBI had added a few more names to the list of accused in the case a few months later. The High Court in February last year set aside the trial of Mr. Advani and seven others on the technical ground that the CBI had not sought the prior permission of the court before adding the names to the list. 

While delivering the order, the High Court had significantly observed that the mistake was curable. It went short of proposing the state government to issue fresh notifications after getting clearance from the court. It apparently meant that the court had not let off the accused persons for lack of evidence against them.

Expectedly, the then Chief Minister, Mr. Rajnath Singh did not act on the court proposal maintaining that his government was not bound to issue fresh notifications unless it was specifically directed by the court to do so. The CBI, on the other hand, did not seek the trial of Mr. Advani and others for obvious reasons.

But Ms. Mayawati since she took over as chief minister of the state three months ago maintained a studied silence on the notification. But now she has to decide either way within the next eight weeks. If she issues fresh notifications after rectifying the legal defects, the BJP will not be able to continue in the coalition government resulting in the fall of her government because it will not be able to continue to support her after she issued an order for the trial of their leader and the Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Advani and others.

Judging by the speed with which the Chief Minister is implementing her dalit agenda to strengthen her vote base among the dalits, she may not be expecting her government to last the full term. So Ms. Mayawati wants to consolidate her vote base among other communities also without losing time. As such, she may not hesitate to issue fresh notifications also to broaden her political constituency among the minorities. But Ms. Mayawati always turned out to be unpredictable. Yet if she refuses to issue fresh notifications, she may totally alienate the Muslims from her party. A section of Muslims had already left the BSP after it forged an alliance with the BJP earlier this year to form the government in the state.

For the BJP, however, it can no way take a tough stand against its alliance partner during the next few weeks since the fate of Mr. Advani and other leaders rests on her decision in the case. The state BJP ministers and leaders will have no other way but to tolerate her political indiscretions. The BJP cannot afford to put Mr. Advani on trial in the Ayodhya demolition case because, if chargesheeted, he may not be able to continue in the post of Deputy Prime Minister. If that happens, it may also affect the image of the BJP and may lead to the fall of the Vajpayee government at the centre.

Recently, the relationship between the BJP and the BSP soured due to the bossy way of functioning by the Chief Minister. Though the state leaders had rushed to Delhi to complain against the dictatorial functioning of Ms. Mayawati, the central party leaders advised them restraint for political reasons. But when the central leaders did so, they were thinking mainly about themselves since they were afraid that the BSP leader may trap Mr. Advani and others in the case by issuing fresh notifications.

It is, however, time for Ms. Mayawati to do some hard thinking. If her party finally decides to part with the BJP on this issue, it may be the last time that the two parties are joining hands to form the government in the state. In the earlier two occasions also, they could not pull on together for long. The BSP has no other major parties to fall upon for forging alliances to contest any future elections or to form the government in the state. So in future the party has to plough a lonely furrow and it cannot hope to get an absolute majority on its own in any future elections in the state. So Ms. Mayawati will think a few times before taking a final decision on issuing fresh notifications in the case.

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