Whatever the Liberhan Commission report might say, the matter has already been settled in the public perception which holds the Bharatiya Janata Party and its affiliates guilty of the demolition of the Babri Masjid, the Congress said on Monday.
Questioning the disruption of Parliament, Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari pooh-poohed the charge that the leak was motivated to divide the Opposition, which had stood as one on the sugarcane price issue.
The Congress counter to this charge was that the government did not have to resort to leaking the report to divide the Opposition. “If the government wanted to divide the Opposition as is being made out, then it could have just tabled the report,” said a senior minister, indicating that the party might well opt for this route now to contain the controversy.
The Congress top leadership had swung into action by the evening, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh calling up from the U.S. and asking Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to convene a meeting of the Cabinet to clear the report, the Action Taken Report (ATR), and table it in Parliament without delay.
Cabinet clearance is mandatory for such reports. There were also some practical considerations pertaining to procuring enough copies of the voluminous report and the ATR for circulation to all members.
Given the limited time at the government’s disposal, plans were afoot to table just a few copies in Parliament and then upload the entire report and the ATR on the Internet for all to access. Add to this the issue of translation into Hindi. In the Rajya Sabha, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, in fact, attributed the delay in tabling the report to the fact that the Hindi translation was not complete.
However, this requirement can be side-stepped with the consent of the presiding officers of the two Houses. BJP leader Sushma Swaraj made it clear that her party would have no problem with the absence of Hindi copies as long as the report was tabled.