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BJP’s best bet: Lash from Liberhan,

Party feels govt action will help

Saturday, July 04, 2009 10:09:19 AM, Sanjay K. Jha, The Telegraph

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New Delhi: The BJP is not unduly worried about the Liberhan Commission report as it feels the political implications will not be essentially negative for the party.

 

Some leaders believe that a damning report could even spark fresh unity and rejuvenation in a party that is fighting disarray and demoralisation after two successive defeats in general elections.

 

Ayodhya may not have paid electoral dividends in recent years but if senior leaders are sought to be prosecuted for advocating a “temple”, there may be a sentimental backlash, the party feels.

 

The BJP leadership is not sure of the shape of things to come as much will depend on the central government’s attitude and hence they want to move cautiously. The dominant view in the party is that vindictiveness on the part of the government will prove counter-productive and again bring the Ayodhya issue to the centre stage.

 

But the BJP is not very optimistic about the rebirth of Ayodhya as a political tool. They hope the Congress will embark on a misadventure to consolidate the Muslim vote which showed signs of a shift towards the party in the last general election and harass the BJP leaders but there is also a dormant fear that the government may not like to precipitate matters after 17 years.

 

In fact, some BJP leaders apprehend the government will do little else than symbolic posturing.

 

The BJP’s official reaction betrayed no sense of nervousness as spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad chose to iterate that the Hindus world over wanted a grand Ram temple at the disputed site and there must be a constructive solution.

 

The party also demanded early tabling of the report in Parliament so that “the nation knew about the truth”.

 

The media was briefed on the issue after senior leaders held a meeting at L.K. Advani’s residence in the morning. Prasad said he would not like to react without knowing the contents of the report but revealed the party’s aggressive intent by confronting the Congress on the charge of BJP’s doublespeak.

 

Responding to Digvijay Singh’s dismissal as doublespeak the BJP leaders’ assertion that they did not want the structure demolished, Prasad said the Congress had already started hatching conspiracies.

 

Apart from the political implications, the BJP is not really thinking about the possible legal fallout for its senior leaders — Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi — as the commission’s findings have no statutory value.

 

The third big leader involved, Uma Bharti, who is in the wilderness after being pushed out of the BJP, has already lapped up the opportunity to inject fresh life into her moribund political career.

Uma promptly said she would rather be hanged than feeling ashamed of what she did during the Ayodhya movement.

 

The BJP has already taken a cautious position, asserting that it did not want the mosque to be pulled down in that manner but a temple must come up at the birthplace of Lord Ram.

 

The BJP leaders are not supporting the demolition because trials are going on in courts and any wrong move can send them to jail. Evidence given to the commission cannot be used in court but statements supporting demolition can influence the trial.

 

On the other hand, if the commission exonerates the BJP leadership, the party will have some brownie points to score but that will not help it re-ignite the Ayodhya flame.

 

One BJP leader said: “We have to see if this (the Liberhan report) is a one-day wonder or if it will build up gradually. We are ready to face it either way."

 

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