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Published in the 16-31 Dec 2003 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

For Mulayam, secularism is now a thing of the past: Left parties
By Andalib Akhter

New Delhi: The Left parties particularly the CPI(M) have expressed concern over Mulayam Singh Yadav’s stand on secularism, which is being widely interpreted as being compromised. They are particularly critical of Mulayam’s latest stand on the Babari Masjid case. In a statement they unanimously stated that the Uttar Padesh government’s submission of a supplementary counter affidavit in the Supreme Court regarding the petition challenging the Rae Bareli chargesheet on the Babri Masjid demolition case, was highly confusing and that it puts a question mark on Mulayam’s secular credentials. 

"Neutrality in the case of the worst attack on national unity and secularism and taking refuge behind legalese is not the style of any doughty fighter against communalism," the CPM says in a statement.

It may be recalled that, on July 23, 2003, while speaking in support of the adjournment motion moved by the opposition in the Lok Sabha, on the CBI chargesheet in the Rae Bareli court, Mulayam Singh had said that, "all the media had reported and it had come before the court too that on 5 December 1992, a meeting was held in the honourable member Vinay Katiyar’s house where it was decided that the masjid should be demolished at all costs. This meeting was attended by Advaniji too" (translated from Hindi). He asserted that the demolition of the Masjid was premeditated and a conspiracy. His colleague in the House, Ramjilal Suman, made a powerful speech exposing the conspiracy to dilute the chargesheet and the role played by the CBI. 

The CPM has demanded an explanation as to why the Mulayam government in Uttar Pradesh cannot take the stand which Mulayam Singh Yadav took in parliament in July. "The stand taken in the supplementary counter-affidavit does not undo the compromising stand taken in the original counter-affidavit. It only seeks to obfuscate the issue," the statement said.

The Uttar Pradesh government has submitted a supplementary counter affidavit to the Supreme Court regarding the petition filed by an individual challenging the Rae Bareli chargesheet on the Babri Masjid demolition case. This follows Shri Mulayam Singh Yadav¦s announcement that the counter affidavit was filed without consultation by the lawyer. He also stated that the lawyer has been removed from the government panel. He went on to strongly affirm that he is a consistent fighter against the communal forces in UP. He further announced that, with the second counter affidavit submitted by the government, there will be no scope for confusion. 

Damage Not Rectified
One could have believed that the first counter-affidavit was an act of mischief by the UP counsel in the Supreme Court. And the supplementary counter-affidavit would rectify the damage done by the first one, which virtually endorsed the stand taken by the BJP on the demolition case. However, says the CPM, a perusal of the supplementary counter-affidavit belies all such hopes. There is only one difference between the first and the supplementary counter affidavit. In the original counter affidavit, the UP government stated that it was wrong and denied that there was any conspiracy to demolish the masjid by any community or political party. It also approved the second chargesheet submitted by the CBI in the Rae Bareli court and endorsed the stand that the CBI has powers to further investigate and amend the charge sheet as per section 173(8) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

In the supplementary counter affidavit, what is stated is that it is for the Supreme Court to decide on the existence of the conspiracy and whether dropping the conspiracy charge from the chargesheet filed in the Rae Bareli court is justified or not. In the words of the supplementary counter affidavit: "Since the trial is pending and is to be decided by the Hon¦ble court, no further comments in this regard are required by the state government." In the matter of the CBI conducting further investigations after the chargesheet was submitted and taken cognisance of, the supplementary petition states that this too is under the consideration of the Supreme Court. 

UP Government’s stand
In non-legal terms, notes the CPM statement, the supplementary counter-affidavit shows the government stand clearly:

1) According to this affidavit, the government has not submitted any opinion on whether it was right or wrong to drop the conspiracy charge against L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and others in the chargesheet submitted by the CBI in the Rae Bareli court. Unlike the earlier stand of Shri Mulayam Singh and the Samajwadi Party that the CBI was being pressurised to dilute the chargesheet, now the government headed by Shri Mulayam Singh has not stated this fact and left it to the Supreme Court. 

2) The counter affidavit also makes it clear that the UP government does not share the petitioner’s view that the manoeuvre conducted by the Mayawati government of issuing a fresh notification dividing the case and transferring the case of 8 leaders to the Rae Bareli court and the CBI filing a new chargesheet was wrong and needs to be reversed. 

3) The UP government does not only not object to the device adopted by the BSP-BJP coalition government, but does not demand the restoration of the original chargesheet which was filed in the special magistrate¦s court in 1997 and which was taken cognisance of and admitted. 

All that the supplementary counter affidavit does is to add a paragraph of condemnation of the demolition of the Babri Masjid as "barbaric, shameful, condemnable and unpardonable." But as far as the Mulayam Singh government is concerned, it has no view whether this was done by a conspiracy of some BJP-VHP leaders, or whether the moves undertaken to scuttle the case are wrong and condemnable. 

The CPI(M) has pointed out that this stance is against the position taken by the Samajwadi Party within and outside the parliament, when the CBI had submitted a chargesheet before the Rae Bareli Court against L K Advani and seven others dropping the conspiracy charge under section 120(B) of the Indian Penal Code.

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