The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday charged the government with deliberately leaking the Liberhan Commission report on the Babri Masjid demolition to undo opposition unity on the sugarcane price issue, on which the Left and Right forces together cornered and forced it to go on the back foot.
However, BJP leaders were not able to convincingly respond to repeated questions why the government needed “to leak” the report when it could very well table it in Parliament, as it has to do this in any case within a few weeks at most.
BJP deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said the report might also have indicted the Narasimha Rao government, which was at the Centre in 1992 when the Babri structure was demolished. “It was a Congress government then. The Congress would also have to answer.” Hence the report was leaked before it was tabled, she said.
After each adjournment of both Houses of Parliament, senior BJP leaders were closeted in the chamber of Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani, apparently discussing the party strategy. On Tuesday morning, at its weekly parliamentary party meeting, the strategy will be made known to its MPs. Ms. Swaraj, who was part of the discussions, refused to share any information with journalists.
However, she did indicate that it might be counter-productive for the BJP to allow the focus to remain on the demolition of the structure at Ayodhya and the indictment of its leaders as mentioned in the “leaked” report. “We would prefer to discuss the Madhu Koda scandal and the 2G spectrum issue.” The government wanted to prevent discussions on these scandals on which the Opposition would have again been united against it, Ms. Swaraj claimed.
At the same time, the BJP could not remain silent and “live with” accusations that all its leaders, including the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, were indicted by the Liberhan Commission, Ms. Swaraj said. She said the inclusion of Mr. Vajpayee’s name — as indicated in the leaked report — put a question mark on the credibility of the report itself. Ms. Swaraj and other party leaders made the same point that they could not tolerate the suggestion in the leaks that Mr. Vajpayee was indicted.
“We want the report tabled at the earliest,” was the common refrain of party leaders, from Murli Manohar Joshi to Arun Jaitley and M. Venkaiah Naidu. They said the “leak” was a grave affront to the dignity of Parliament.
As for Mr. Advani, he said in the House that had he been indicted he would have accepted that as a challenge, but when Mr. Vajpayee’s name had been mentioned, he felt, it was his duty to demand that the truth be made available to all and the report placed in Parliament.