Many in the Bharatiya Janata Party had openly voiced their hope that the Liberhan Commission report would somehow reunite the Sangh Parivar, even if it leads to the dissipation of the new found Opposition unity seen in Parliament on the sugarcane issue.
But within hours of the report being tabled in Parliament, there were radically different reactions from different elements of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh affiliates, generally known as the Sangh Parivar. While the Bharatiya Janata Party continues to maintain that the demolition of the “Babri structure” was “unfortunate” and its leader L.K. Advani describes the day it fell, December 6, 1992, as the “saddest day of my life,” general secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad Pravin Togadia said on Tuesday that it was the “proudest day” for him. He claimed that Hindus in general were also “proud” that Babri, a “symbol of Hindu humiliation,” had been levelled to the ground.
The first hint that the Commission may not help the ailing BJP — the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had recently said it may need all kinds of medications, including chemotherapy — came from Ms. Sushma Swaraj. She said on Monday that the party would not like to focus on the report for the next few days in Parliament as it would prevent it from raising other important issues. The party would prefer to talk about the scandal involving the former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda — now under investigation by the Enforcement Directorate — amassing hundreds of crores of ill-gotten money and the multi-thousand-crore 2G spectrum scam.
That the Liberhan Commission may be used by members of the Sangh Parivar to continue to settle scores was evident on Tuesday when at the parliamentary party meeting of the BJP an MP from Purnia, Bihar, Uday Singh, attacked the RSS and decried the impression that the new BJP president was being chosen by the Sangh bosses. He said a wrong political message had gone out; the BJP should select its own leader to be its next party president. The reference was to the apparently Sangh anointed Nitin Gadkari as the next party chief.
Apparently, while Mr. L.K. Advani in the chair did not respond, party president Rajnath Singh sought to pacify the MP by saying that the BJP will elect its own party chief, but not before it became clear to all present that the Liberhan Commission report, due to be tabled in a few hours, would be used by some in the party to bolster their own fallen image.
Those close to Mr. Advani have already begun saying that after the report, it would not be right for Mr. Advani to step down as the Leader of Opposition, a move that was being considered. Answering questions on the propriety of Mr. Advani continuing in a Constitutional position after being indicted by a judicial commission, Ms. Swaraj said it was nothing new. “Where is the question of his resignation? The trial [of Mr. Advani] is on in the courts … the indictment of Mr. Advani [by the Liberhan Commission] is perverse.” She said Mr. Advani had asked her “to demand the resignation of the Home Minister because the Liberhan report has been leaked by him,” but the party would not stall Parliament on this issue.
Separately, Mr. Togadia said he was already drawing up plans for yet another mass mobilisation programme in the cause of a Ram temple. Individuals, even if “some go to jail” or “others are hanged,” did not matter. Sacrifice would have to be made; whether Atal Bihari Vajpayee or L.K. Advani were indicted by Liberhan was unimportant. It was the case of Lord Ram which was uppermost in the mind of the VHP. That, he said, was the considered view.
It was back to the years before the demolition. “ Inth ka jawab pathar se denge, bhavya mandir banake rahenge” (a Ram temple will be built; if we get brickbats, we will throw stones in response), Mr. Togadia said. To recharge old passions, several youth conventions were being planned — the first in Patna early December — and a convention of `sadhus’ during the Kumbhmela early next year in Haridwar is to be held.
For some of the Sangh affiliates, it was back to the old war cries of `Mandir Wahin Banayenge,’ but BJP leaders who have hit a two-decade long electoral bottom in Uttar Pradesh, were not at all sure whether Ram temple could again give them any political dividends.