Samajwadi Party (SP) general secretary Amar Singh on Monday expressed “shock” at the reported “indictment” of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the Liberhan Commission Report extracts that have been leaked in the media.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Singh said he was “shocked” that Mr. Vajpayee had been “indicted” and that former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, who was in power when the Babri mosque was demolished, was reportedly “exonerated” in the report.

“The Indian public is aware about the role of the Narasimha Rao government, and unless some new facts are revealed in the report, I am shocked about Mr. Vajpayee’s indictment. He is the liberal face of the party,” he said.

‘When will they apologise?’

Signalling that the party had reverted to its combative role with the Congress, especially after the SP’s poor showing in the recent Assembly by-elections in Uttar Pradesh when it drew a blank on 11 seats, Mr. Singh said it took the Congress 20-odd years to apologise to the Sikhs for the 1984 riots. “How long will it take for the party to apologise to the Muslims for the Babri mosque demolition?” he said.

The SP is desperate to win back the Muslim constituency in U.P. that it lost after its alliance with Kalyan Singh, who was the Chief Minister when the mosque was demolished. “Kalyan Singh was never a part of the Samajwadi Party. He left the BJP because he had differences over ticket distribution. We respected public perception about him and have washed our hands off him,” Mr. Singh said.

“The Congress wants management by postponement. Whether it is Sacchar, Ranganath Mishra, Sri Krishna or Liberhan panel, the Congress only knows how to set up commissions but does not implement anything. They only want to use Muslims for votes. It has admitted in its party Shiv Sena members like Sanjay Nirupam, Chagan Bhujbal and Narayan Rane who are now holding ministerial portfolios,” he added.

Muslims do not want Mandir or Masjid, Mr. Singh said, adding: “They want law and order and safety.”

For speedy trial

He said it was he who raised the issue of the “speedy disposal of the Babri Mosque and tabling of the Liberhan Commission report” in the Rajya Sabha’s Business Advisery Committee, on which the house will take up a “structured debate.”

“We want a speedy trial of the Babri Masjid demolition case and that the guilty should be punished,” Mr. Singh added.

A Bahujan Samaj Party member, speaking to The Hindu, described as “ridiculous” the reported “exoneration” of Narasimha Rao, when, according to him, “the National Integration Council had authorised to him to dismiss the State government and to impose President’s rule before December 6.”

While the BSP will give its reaction after seeing the report, the party member felt that by leaking the report, its seriousness had been diluted.

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