Hindu vote bank not BJP motive: Advani

NEW DELHI, DEC. 27. The Home Minister, Mr. L.K. Advani, today said the BJP did not join the Ayodhya movement to exploit the ``Hindu psyche'' or to create a ``Hindu vote'' bank as it was impossible to consolidate the community into one vote bank.

``Hindu society is not monolithic. The varieties of castes and creed, linguistic groups and the tribal sections are totally distinct from the rest.''

``And the fact that unlike other religious groups there is no one prophet or book to command the allegiance of society, which makes it difficult for anyone to think of a Hindu vote bank,'' he told the Liberhan Commission probing the demolition of the disputed structure at Ayodhya on December 6, 1992. He was deposing for the second consecutive day today.

Replying to intense questioning by the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) counsel, Mr. Yousuf H. Muchhala, about the purpose behind the BJP joining the VHP's temple movement, Mr. Advani asserted that the party as per its Palmpur Resolution in 1989 joined it to ``strengthen the cultural nationalism.'' Asked whether he was aware of the fall-out of the movement on the country's secular fabric and did he know that as per official records on December 6, 1992 in and around Ayodhya itself 16 persons belonging to the Muslim community were killed, 300 houses were ransacked, 23 mosques and 19 mazars were damaged, Mr. Advani said he was not aware of it. Had it been in the official records, the fact could have been mentioned in the white paper brought out by the then Central Government, he said, ``if it is true I strongly condemn it,'' Mr. Advani said.

Clarifying further on the issue of vote bank, Mr. Advani said there could be ``Brahmin, Rajput or Dalit vote banks within the Hindu society, but there could not be a total Hindu vote bank.'' Those who think of it are mistaken and I have no illusion regarding this.''

He said he had deposed before the panel for so many days but it should not be made a forum to ``score any points''.

During the pre-lunch proceedings some tense moments were witnessed as Mr. Advani objected to some questions being put by the AIMPLB counsel on the party's ideology based on the BJP leader, Mr. Jay Dubhasi's book, ``Road to Ayodhya'', saying ``they are not relevant.'' His counsel, Mr. L.R. Gupta, told the Commission that such questions were ``outside the scope of the terms and reference of the Commission'', which was examining the events that led to the demolition of the disputed structure at Ayodhya.

Mr. Advani said he had no objection entering into a dialogue with counsel of AIMPLB on the ideological matters, but this was not a ``right forum'' for it. ``I invite him to discuss the matter at any other forum, because I would like to talk on the issue and try to resolve them.'' In reply to a question by the AIMPLB counsel whether the BJP had given a thought to the repercussions of the ``rath yatra'' Mr. Advani started from Somnath in Gujarat to Ayodhya in 1990, he said it was not aimed at the creation of a ``Hindu vote bank'' or to promote ``Hindu nationalism'' as had been suggested.

``The purpose of the ``yatra'' was the revival of the cultural nationalism by involving the population of the country irrespective of their religion,'' Mr. Advani said.

Asked whether the police force deployed at Ayodhya on December 6, 1992 was inactive and ``facilitated'' the demolition and did not do their duty in the right perspective, Mr. Advani said he would not deny that they failed to do their duty.

``Their duty was to protect the structure and according to my information there was prohibition on using fire arms but that did not prevent them from using force in any manner,'' he said, adding that the then BJP Chief Minister, Mr. Kalyan Singh, had to resign for failing to protect the structure. Mr. Advani said he had asked Mr. Kalyan Singh to resign because as a Chief Minister he had failed to protect the structure though he had given an assurance to the Supreme Court to this effect.