– By Sanjay Jha
( In defense of Lieberhan Report )
I am focusing this piece on what seems to have become recently the central controversial issue of the Justice Lieberhan Report on the Babri Masjid demolition at Ayodhya in 1992 ( courtesy BJP media cell’s skilful handling and the Congress’s surprising pussy-footing strategy on the subject ) —- former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s indictment and being held equally guilty as others in saffron colors in that illustrious congregation , which unfortunately obfuscates the major principal finding—- BJP and the Sangh Parivar’s daylight flouting of civil procedures and proven criminal misconduct for settling disputes in a matter of humongous national sensitivity.
Frankly, I think we are completely overdoing this sanctimonious bit about Vajpayee’s indictment by the rightfully much maligned for it’s almost- posthumous- appearance Justice Lieberhan Report. In fact, I have been quite flabbergasted with my good old friends in the Congress party ( Salman Khurshid appearing almost unnecessarily apologetic about it ) completely missing the vital point of what Lieberhan is explicitly stating : the buck stops at the top, period ! As it should. It happens in all walks of life; sports, business , adventure trails, voyages , everywhere— the captain of the ship stands up in honorable duty to accept consequences for his team’s inadequacies or violations. In fact, it applies more stringently in politics perhaps than anywhere else. President Harry Truman, anyone? This is the germane issue, not the technical error of not being given a suitable “ notice”. That is nothing but bunkum.
Vajpayee was the supreme leader of the BJP and in a matter of such enormous gravity how can the numero uno simply wash his hands away and walk away scot-free? It is actually as simple as that. It is akin , in fact, to LK Advani’s preposterous statement on his supposed ignorance of the hostage drama during the Kandahar hijacking. The bottomline is Vajpayee either deliberately slept through the insane demolition , conveniently looked away or was too intimidated to take on his fiery colleagues. Either way he is a silent accessory , an established conspirator to the sacrilege that followed. I think all these private drawing room quotes about his supposed anguish is utter balderdash; why didn’t he resign from the BJP is protest against such a blasphemous act ? It again sounds like Advani’s “ saddest day of his life” claptrap. If we castigate Lieberhan for flimsy technical errors, then how can we on the other hand give credence to personal ex-pressions of clearly fabricated angst heard by party colleagues and some media-men in close proximity?
The BJP are past-masters at diabolical double speak and can manipulate statements with insouciant confidence ; note Vajpayee’s passionate outbursts on video clips where he used his masterful oratory to outstanding provocation. . He was not called a mask by his own party stalwart Govindacharya for nothing. My case rests: Vajpayee is clearly and certainly guilty of willful inaction and of adroitly passing the buck. Let me give you further corroborative evidence.
If you need proof ask yourselves where was this supreme leader when Gujarat burnt in Y 2002; was he not the Prime Minister leading a billion people of India ? And unlike PV Narasimha Rao who was at least dealing with a dubious opposition party Chief Minister with pre-mediated designs in Kalyan Singh , it was Vajpayee’s own party-man Narendra Modi who was orchestrating a deadly carnage. Once again Vajpayee remained extraordinarily quiet for a considerable period; then suddenly in quintessential Vajpayee style , after incalculable damage was done he made a grand entry and cried copious tears. Trust me, no one believed him. In fact, you do not have to be a discerning political analyst to assess Vajpayee’s trademark style of functioning; he always ran with the hare and hunted with the hounds.
Now come on, guys, I think the BJP is a party which is so rehearsed in theatrical street-side entertainment you cannot take them seriously. Gujarat like Ayodhya was once again described as a “ spontaneous reaction”. The party has stock –phrases ready for public consumption on the condescending assumption that we are all gullible fools. Talk of hubris!
I think the BJP is hurting bad because Lieberhan has brilliantly boomeranged them by calling Atal Ji— “ the pseudo-moderate ”. He has hit the bull’s eye by paying them back in their own coin , and exposed Vajpayee for what he truly is. Just because the latter is now out of public life does not mean that we have to appear skewed in evaluating his distinct and cataclysmic failures.
The RSS and the BJP have no regrets whatsoever about the Babri demolition, a BJP CM was held guilty of contempt of court by the Supreme Court none the less, and even today they are not willing to categorically state that they will abide by a dispassionate neutral Supreme court-verdict. The fact that the Ayodhya destruction fractured India permanently and sowed seeds of Islamic extremism culminating right up to 26/11 is something that neither Vajpayee, Advani, BJP or the Sangh Parivar can ever disown. We have all paid a colossal price for their shenanigans. The BJP has always promoted it’s rabble-rouser poster-boys like Kalyan Singh, Narendra Modi and Varun Gandhi flagrantly in our faces. It smacks of a pathological disregard for dialogue, discussion and debate to resolve issues. In the circumstances, a technical error and Rs 8 crore expenses incurred by Lieberhan over 17 years looks like trivial change.
In fact, Lieberhan has just disproved the popular legal phrase that justice delayed is justice denied. Justice delayed , in the case of Ayodhya, still remains justice delivered.