-Brij Bihari Pandey
T HE OTHER DAY the SP General Secretary Amar Singh, in an interview to a TV channel, boasted about the so called secular credentials of his party. He lambasted the Congress party’s Arjun Singh for acting as a “secular inspector”. What an audacity! Pot calling the kettle black! He went to the extent of taking a dig on the left parties, saying that the communal challenge did not lie in the states like Bengal and Kerala, administered by communists, it was in the Hindi belt, in the most populous state of UP, where it is SP which has accepted the gauntlet; and it is Mulayam who is in the forefront of forces fighting communalism.
Amar Singh is right, except that the SP-BJP ‘combat’ in UP is increasingly looking like one of those ‘fixed’ matches of cricket. The return of Mulayam Singh Yadav to the throne in Lucknow was widely celebrated by the RSS mouthpiece Panchjanya. When the VHP’s ‘Ayodhya march’ ended in a fiasco with poor local response, it was Mulayam who released all the arrested VHP leaders and allowed them to have a face saving ‘rally’ on the very next day. This duly earned the Centre’s admiration and Venkiah Naidu patted Mulayam’s back saying that the VHP demand to dislodge the SP govt. of UP was unwarranted.
Then, to appease the BJP, Mulayam initiated a new tradition in U.P., by letting the notorious Kesri Nath Tripathi to continue as Assembly speaker. After all, it was only against the Congress and BSP that he had given his rulings! The ruling SP would be content with the post of deputy speaker.
But the most disturbing sign is the government’s reluctance to take steps against BJP bigwigs accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case. Sometime ago when the CBI had dropped the conspiracy charges against L K Advani and seven other leaders in its supplementary chargesheet filed in May before the Rae Bareli Special CBI court, Mulayam Singh Yadav had alleged in the course of a parliamentary debate that the Centre was misusing CBI to dilute the chargesheet. But when on the basis of that diluted chargesheet, Advani was let off by the Rae Bareli court, Mulayam Singh welcomed the court verdict.
The worst came on November 16, when the UP Government filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court defending the filing of the supplementary chargesheet by CBI in the Ayodhya case dropping the conspiracy charge against top BJP leaders. The affidavit was filed in response to a notice issued by Supreme Court in a petition filed by advocate Wajahat Ansari, seeking quashing of the supplementary chargesheet filed by CBI and holding of trial at Lucknow instead of Rae Bareilly. The petitioner had accused the Centre of interfering with the case as the CBI filed the chargesheet in Rae Bareli when Uttar Pradesh was being ruled by Mayawati with the support of the BJP.
The Mulayam Govt. affidavit held that it was wrong to assume that Babri Masjid was demolished on December 6, 1992 pursuant to a conspiracy by any specific community or political party. “The contentions of the writ petition are admitted only to the extent that the Babri Masjid was destroyed on December 6, 1992. The contention of the petitioner that the aforesaid act was done under criminal conspiracy by any specific community or political party is wrong and denied,” the affidavit said while requesting the court to dismiss Ansari’s petition. The affidavit held that under Sec. 173(8) of the Cr.P.C., CBI had the power to further investigate the case at any stage and file a supplementary chargesheet. Not only this, the affidavit argued that “submission of the petitioner that political pressure has been used on CBI in further investigation which was done under 173(8) is not admitted.”
However, vehement protests from all the secular and democratic quarters against this unprecedented appeasement forced Mulayam to soon retract his steps and instead start the damage control exercise. Well, there was a mistake, he said, but not by a secularist like himself, it was RK Verma, the government counsellor in the Supreme Court, who had done the mischief. Thus beating a retreat he filed a revised affidavit. But how far could he mend up the holes popping up in his secular cloak? The counsellor, who has been subsequently fired from the panel of the lawyers for U.P., held that “I did not deviate anywhere from the client’s instructions.”
The revised affidavit said that the December 6 incident was “most barbaric, shameful, condemnable, unpardonable and was an act against the nation and integrity of the nation.” Fine, but was it a “criminal conspiracy” hatched by the BJP or not? In the new affidavit, the Mulayam government refrained from expressing any opinion on whether any political party was involved in the conspiracy. Instead, it said that the mosque was demolished due to criminal conspiracy of “some organisation”, without naming it.
The clarification was equally ambiguous on the question of “political pressure” exerted on the CBI to file the supplementary chargesheet. Retreating from Mulayam’s own allegation in Parliament, his government avoided taking any position on this, saying that this was a matter to be decided by the court. But the Court had asked your opinion on the charge, Mr. Mulayam. How could you feign not to understand that?
In the same vein, if the earlier affidavit defended the CBI’s decision to drop conspiracy charges against the BJP leaders, the latest one simply said that whether the agency had such a power was a “legal question” involving the interpretation of Section 173(8) of Criminal Procedure Code. “Hence, no reply thereto is required from the state government,” it added. It is not just a legal question, it is a question of your integrity too, Mr. Mulayam!
Only a few months back we saw another secular ‘champion’, Laloo Yadav, clamping sedition charges on students showing black flag to Advani in Bihar. Now his counterpart in UP is making way for Advani and others to walk free out of courts without facing the charges of the heinous crime they have committed against the nation. How inconsistent these “secular-socialists” are in their crusade against communalism! But if Mulayam is doing all this bending backward in order to stay in power, he is mistaken. Babri Masjid is not just another issue, it has sealed the fate of the Congress for its complicity, first during Rajiv’s days and then during Narsimha Rao’s regime. And Mayawati too had to pay for her omissions. It wouldn’t be different for Mulayam.