Thursday, November 26, 2009

Reflections on Babri Masjid demolition post-Liberhan panel report

After taking as much time and causing as much delay that was possible, the report of the commission probing the Babri mosque demolition, is finally with the government.

Particularly, when the political climate is absolutely in Congress' favour and the party doesn't have to face elections for a long time, Retd Justice MS Liberhan has submitted the report that cost us over Rs 15 crore.

Many of us feel it's futile to discuss the Ram Janmabhumi-Babri Masjid dispute and the Ayodhya movement now when the nation has moved forward, but it is still pertinent to set the record straight. We believed that it had to be a pro-Congress report and that's what the honourable judge has delivered.

The truth is that PV Narsimharao, his Home Minister SB Chavan and the Muslim leaders of Congress were responsible for the demolition of the mosque. Narsimharao was the supreme architect. The shrewd man let 'things take their own course' and found no reason to invoke president's rule when North India was boiling, though he immediately after dismissed the BJP governments in even MP and Himachal Pradesh for no apparent reason.

Narsimharao lied to the nation. He promised on live television that the mosque would be rebuilt, but gave ample opportunity to the Kar Sewaks to build the make-shift temple, and in process hurt the confidence of millions of Indians in the government and the official machinery.

He would not have been able to do so, had the Ministers in his government taken a firm stand. But the 'qaum farosh' leaders showed little remorse or action. Ministries were more important than the mosque or the faith of the minorities. Worse was to follow. Riots were engineered in Mumbai (and Surat) and Congress CM Sudhakar Rao Naik let the Shiv Sena mobs go on rampage in the metropolis.

Congress cleansed of communalists

Narsimharao represented the right-wing constituency within the Congress that existed from pre-independence era. As long as Nehru remained alive, he managed to keep them under check [to an extent] but leaders like Sampuranand, Purushottam Das Tandon, Govind Das and others were no less fundamentalist than the Togadiyas and Singhals of today.

In fact, the 'right-wing leaders' within Congress were much more intelligent and fundamentalist than those in BJP and even VHP today. They caused greater damage though spoke little. The manner in which not a single Muslim was appointed in UP police from 1947 to 1967 or the total abolition of Urdu from UP are just a couple of examples of this brand of Congress' communalism in the past.

It was this right-wing group within the Congress that was instrumental in keeping the communal cauldron boiling. In mid-80s, it reached it's peak. One positive aspect of the Ayodhya movement is that it not just gave strength to BJP but also ensured that such right-wing hardliners of Congress either got exposed or joined the BJP.

At least, 17 years after demolition of Babri Masjid, Congress is not left with any strong fundamentalist lobby within its organisation. It is back to the centrist path. And there is a distinct right-wing [BJP] that has also diluted its position, due to its strategic alliances [JDU etc] and electoral reversals. Some would say that India has also changed.

And where are the commanders of the demolition squad and those who gave war cries in that post-Rath Yatra period, today?

1. Kalyan Singh, the posterboy of Hindutva in the heartland, is today facing existential crisis

2. Uma Bharti is in wilderness, dumped by her party

3. Sadhvi Ritambhara is back to Ashram

4. Vinay Katiyar is a spent-force. Once he won't meet a Muslim, Today accepts Deoband's invitation

5. Bal Thackeray has lost even Mumbai to his nephew

6. Ashok Singhal is no longer the Sant Samaj's preferred leader, they understood him well

7. LK Advani is a defeated man, failed to lead his part to victory

8. Syed Shahabuddin, once the mascot of Muslim politics, is not even on the periphery. No one bothers about him. Mercifully, there is no talk of such dreadful and confrontation-oriented Muslim leadership in the country.

9. Obaidullah Khan Azmi has no takers now.

10. Murli Manohar Joshi. Who is he?

And an important point that one might forget is that, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the sole BJP leader, whose statements hardly came during the entire period,  had emerged among the other leaders, to become the Prime Minister of India.

Positive aspect after 17 years

This is a much better situation than the era when Congress was the only major political party but it used to have a very strong right-wing lobby apart from other openly anti-minority parties like Hindu Mahasabha. Congress-led state governments may not have be too secular or active, but at least, they are now forced to act in case of communal riots, that were earlier an annual feature through out the country.

Earlier, Congress' position was that it dictated terms and instilled sense of fear among Muslims. Its leaders felt that Muslims can't desert it and even if if they do, it will remain in power. Despite riots and absolutely no schemes for empowerment of Muslims, it blackmailed the Muslim electorate.

But post-Ayodhya movement, the alienation of Muslims cost the party dearly. A party that used to have 300-400 MPs reached a nadir of 138. However, under Sonia Gandhi, the Congress that was cleansed of leaders whose USP was their doublespeak, Muslims started returning to it and post-Gujarat, the party managed to get back to power. [Still, this Centrist, apparently pro-minority Congress, shies from acting on Justice Sri Krishna commission report]

Credit goes more to the secular silent majority, the Hindu masses, who understood the designs of those who turned Maryada Purushottam Lord Rama for political gains and to divide the nation on religious lines for the sake of power.

Indictment of Indian bureaucracy, complicity of IAS-IPS officers

From 1986 onwards until 1992, the anti-Muslim feelings were stoked and fiery speeches were delivered on a daily basis across the country. I remember the days when bricks carrying the name of Lord Rama were carried by Kar Sewaks and fiercely anti-Muslim slogans were raised.

I recall the public meetings and rallies were they would openly charge Muslims of everything bad that happened in this country. It hurt badly when one heard the term 'Babar ki Aulad'. It was all happening openly and almost everywhere.

Ritambhara, Uma Bharati, Kalyan Singh, Vinay Katiyar, Mahant Avaidyanath and Ashok Singhal abused Muslims in rallies in each and every town in North India. But no Indian Civil servant dared to take action--either registering cases for inflammatory speeches or booking them under the provisions of Indian Penal Code for spreading communal hatred.

The bureaucracy was the silent accomplice. I must again reiterate that politicians, at least, have to face the voter every couple of years and also face anger of the society, but the bureaucracy that is educated and ought to uphold law and order, cunningly give the impression that the politicians rule the roost. On the contrary the bureaucrat lets things worsen and also escape any criticism or public scrutiny.

The collapse of the system is more because of the impotent and complicit bureaucrat. In 1984, Delhi was burning following the death of Indira Gandhi. Yes, Congress politicians were responsible. But where was the police officials and the district administration? Who held the officials responsible? Did any of them got punished?

The same was the case with 26/11. Not a single official got suspended. It is absolutely unbelievable situation. Power without any accountability. And Indian babudom has developed this system to perfection. The society just doesn't consider them accountable. Lot more can be said on the subject but I think this post is long enough to put a full stop now.