Monday, September 30, 2013

Demonstration against price rise, unemployment, privatization of education, health, power and transport

Demonstration against the price rise, unemployment, privatization of education, health, power and transport by state government and anti people policies of central and state government happened on September 30, 2013 in Patna.

Bihar State Committee of SUCI (Communist) organized this demonstration in front of the Chief Minister.  

Lalu Parsad, former Bihar Chief Minister convicted, jailed in fodder corruption scam

Lalu Prasad, Member of Parliament, President of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and former Bihar Chief Minister was taken to the Birsa Munda Central Jail at Hotwar on the outskirts of Ranchi after special CBI court, Ranchi convicted him in the fodder scam corruption case on September 30, 2013. This conviction disqualifies him from Parliament and renders him ineligible for contesting elections for at least six years.

Another 44 accused, including former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra, six politicians and four IAS officers, were also convicted by court of Pravas Kumar Singh for fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from Chaibasa treasury.

The court has fixed October 3, 2013 for pronouncement of sentence against Yadav, Mishra and others in the case filed in April, 1996. The RJD chief faces immediate disqualification as Lok Sabha member under a recent Supreme Court order that an MP or MLA would stand disqualified immediately if convicted by a court for crimes with punishment of two years or more and under some other laws even without jail sentence.

This case owes a lot to former CBI officer U.N. Biswas, at present a Minister in the West Bengal government, for making a foolproof case in the fodder scam.

The judgement of the Supreme Court on July 10, 2013 struck down a provision in the electoral law that provided protection to sitting MPs and MLAs by allowing them to continue in their posts if they appeal against a lower court conviction and secure a stay of the order.

RJD would challenge the order in a higher court after the sentence is known. Lalu Prasad arrived at the special CBI court in Ranchi before delivery of the verdict in the 17-year-old case. The court had on September 17 set September 30 date to pass orders in the case.

Prasad had begun arguments on September 9 and ended it on September 17 after the Supreme Court turned down his request to change the current special court to another court after he apprehended political conspiracy. IAS officers Mahesh Prasad, Phoolchand Singh, Beck Juleus, K Arumugam, income tax officer AC Choudhary, former Animal Husbandry Department officials and fodder suppliers were also among the accused.

Following the animal husbandry scam, popularly known as the fodder scam, Prasad had to resign as chief minister of Bihar. After installing his wife Rabri Devi as the chief minister, Yadav had surrendered to a court in Patna on July 31, 1997.

He came to Ranchi following a court order that Ranchi had the jurisdiction of the case. The Mecon Guest House was converted to a camp jail in Ranchi before he was shifted to the old Birsa Munda Jail at Circular road, Ranchi.

After Jharkhand's bifurcation on November 15, 2000, the litigations were brought before the Supreme Court whether the Patna high court had the jurisdiction on the cases in this part of the undivided Bihar and trial was stayed till December 2000 to December 2001. The SC had said in November, 2001 that trial would be conducted by special courts in Ranchi.

Trial in Ranchi began in March, 2002 by seven special courts. The case was posted for defence of Prasad from May 15 and Prasad's counsel examined 29 witnesses in his defence.

The Fodder Scam was a corruption scandal that involved the embezzlement of about from the government treasury of the eastern Indian state of Bihar. Among those implicated in the theft and arrested were then Chief Minister of Bihar, Laloo Prasad Yadav, as well as former Chief Minister, Jagannath Mishra. The scandal led to the end of Laloo's reign as Chief Minister.

The theft continued many years, and allegedly involved numerous Bihar state's administrative and elected officials across multiple administrations of the Indian National Congress and the Janata Dal parties. The corruption scheme involved the fabrication of "vast herds of fictitious livestock" for which fodder, medicines and animal husbandry equipment was supposedly procured. The scandal came to light in 1996 but the theft had been in progress for over two decades.

The trial has been completed in 44 cases out of a total of 53 cases. More than 500 accused have been convicted and awarded punishments by various courts. when the defence continued to skip dates, the court fixed July 15 to deliver the judgement and asked the accused to complete arguments by July 1, 2103. Lalu Prasad moved to the Supreme Court pleading shifting of his case from the court of Pravas Kumar Singh on the ground of political conspiracy. Supreme Court did not agree. This ensured the judgement against Lalu Prasad.

For their interests, corporates speaking in favour of one individual: Nitish Kumar

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been a central political figure in the past year. His opposition to Narendra Modi being projected as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s face in 2014 led to the split in a 17-year old alliance. Mr. Kumar has waged a persistent battle to redefine regional backwardness. A day after the Raghuram Rajan committee declared Bihar as the second least-developed state, meriting assistance, Mr. Kumar spoke exclusively to The Hindu in Patna on a range of national and state-level issues, weaving in his broader political principles and current strategies.

Let us begin with national politics. There is a move towards a Presidential-style contest in a parliamentary system like India. Do you think it will work?

It cannot succeed. It may become convenient for the media, and easy for people to have conversations around it. But India is too complex. Each constituency has its dynamics. The parliamentary system is settled, and this is not the time to play around with it. India is also a multi-party democracy, not a two-party system. The era of one-party dominating the national scene has long gone. Neither Congress nor BJP are present in every nook and corner of the country. Congress has moved towards an alliance system at the centre in the past two terms. BJP has grown in some states, but they do not have a pan-India presence and need allies. If you just had two parties all over the country, and others had no impact, then it would be different. But in this era of multiplicity of parties, it is not compatible. There are many factors – party, ideology, MPs, and ultimately, you need a majority in parliament. The efforts to engineer a presidential-type contest will fail.

On corporate-media nexus

You come from the socialist strand of Indian politics. Do you sense a growing role of corporates in the run-up to the 2014 elections?

This is true. Corporates have entered political discourse. Corporates were apolitical earlier, but now we can see a politicisation of corporates. For its interests, it is speaking in favor of an individual. This trend was not there in the past. And the advantage of that was that democracy reached the grassroots, the weakest sections and marginalised. The parliamentary system enabled power to reach those in villages, the poor. Their rights mattered. But there is an effort to introduce a new influence against that. But it won’t succeed. Ultimately, it is one person, one vote.

There is also a growing corporatisation of media. By and large, the media – barring a few papers – are either becoming corporate or going into their hands. What is appearing in the media is not a reflection of the ground reality. The kind of freedom journalists enjoyed in reporting and analyzing seems to have diminished, and there is an attempt to orchestrate a particular kind of environment. And this will affect institutions negatively. Democracy is about institutions. Independent media is an institution, and if they get influenced, project choices and wishes of some individuals as the popular will, there can be temporary confusion. It will appear like there is a wave, but if you go to the true masses, and listen to them, then you will encounter a different reality.

Would you say there is unprecedented religious polarisation in North India?

There is an effort to engineer polarisation, to create an atmosphere, and orchestrate it. But it is not that polarisation is happening. It is not there on the ground. There is a smoke-screen.

On politics of identity

In the last two decades, identity politics has primarily manifested itself through assertion of marginalised castes in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. But is religion going to trump caste this time?

Religion and caste will remain. Within our larger identity of being Indians, these identities will continue. But we have tried to move away from these categories, and create an identity of sub-nationalism. To strengthen the country, you have to strengthen all regions. Only if all regions progress, there will be stability and growth in the country. These identities will not cease to exist, but will get weaker. Here, we have tried to instill a sense of Bihari pride, and that has weakened caste and religious identity to some extent. But there is an orchestrated move to revive the other identities. But the good sign is that there is an inherent national identity in the consciousness of people, and sub-nationalism will become stronger. People will come together for different causes. Other identities will get subsumed within that. We connected the struggle for Bihar’s rights with pride. We want to make a Bihar so that it will be a badge of honor to be called a Bihari. Large masses of people from any caste or religion, by and large, want development and peace. But some influential sections – who are not worried about the future; who already have everything – try to create problems. It is their conspiracy, their past-time because they do not get affected. They could be corporates, or those at the forefront of extreme identity politics. The poorest connects with the Bihar identity, and that inspires us to work.

You spoke of national identity. There is an effort to project a kind of belligerent nationalism which questions loyalty of Indian Muslims.

That is quite different. I am speaking of the Indian nationalism, born of the notion of unity in diversity. There are others who don’t believe in Indian nationalism, they believe in identity nationalism. How can it be nationalism which discriminates against people who are citizens in one’s own country? How can nationalism be built on suspicion? Nations are built on trust, cooperation, and respect for diversity. This was shaped during the freedom struggle, by leaders during the post-independence era. It incorporated equal respect for all religions, and provision of special opportunities for those who are backward in order to create a level-playing field. This is the true essence of nationalism, not that which treats our own people as second-class citizens.

You were in alliance for 17 years with precisely the forces you are attacking on these grounds. It is during your reign that RSS and BJP got an opportunity to expand. How can you distance yourself now?

17 years ago, we allied to prevent a split in the votes against the then ruling party. The people of Bihar eventually chose us. But we never compromised on basic issues. They benefited from it too. But that was not divisive politics. It was developmental politics. They tried to change that, and introduce divisive politics, and our relationship broke on that count. We did not walk out suddenly. We kept reminding them of the 1998 and 1999 promises, on the basis of which the governments were formed in Delhi. They began thinking that Congress is so unpopular right now that the moment was ripe to impose their agenda, with the help of corporates. I became careful a year ago, and put some conditions about what is not acceptable. The current propaganda may have some impact, but it will go cold soon. We have faith in our principles. Some people may be aggressive today, but they won’t go beyond a certain stage once the designs of divisive politics get exposed.

On Special Status and allies

Let us look forward. Now that the Rajan committee has declared Bihar the second least developed state, is there a ground for alliance with the Congress?

We have reached this stage because of the battle for special status. We had said change the yardstick, and that there needed to be a paradigm shift in economic policy for development. We raised issues of Bihar and other backward states. There is now an indication of that paradigm shift. We would have been happier if per-capita income was taken as a parameter, but they took per-capita expenditure and consumption. But still, they have divided the states into three categories, and decided to adopt a different approach for least-developed. You gave certain states special status under special circumstances, gave them tax concession, and provided assistance. This was our demand, this is what we want. The principle to develop the least developed, to help industrialise such states, to provide central assistance has been recognised. The basic policy is that there should be a strategy to help backward states reach the national mean; this was my demand. I asked revisit it. They revisited it, and if they had not accepted it in principle, why would the Finance Minister, with the PM’s approval, put it in the public domain. So this is a step forward.

Precisely because they taken a step forward to meet your substantive demand, and to prevent a split of the ‘secular votes’, will you ally with Congress?

We will think about it. We have not thought about it so far. We have party programmes in October. Everyone is assessing their prospects. Let us see how the situation evolves. We will see the mood in our rank and file. Our cadre is enthusiastic, but this does not get reflected in the media because we do not show-off.

On the Muslim vote

Will the Muslim vote get divided between Lalu Prasad and you?

Why will it get divided? What has Laluji done substantively? He just kept himself in power, but what did he do for the people? The graveyard land used to be captured; I began a policy of fencing it and over half the graveyards are now fenced. I addressed their issues of education, health, employment. We have given land for Aligarh Muslim University (in Kishengunj). We have supported schools and madrasas, and run a campaign for their education, to bring them into the mainstream. We have encouraged girl’s education in all communities. What did he do?

He provided them security, and says there were no riots during his period.

There were communal disturbances during his time. This is rubbish. There have been no riots during my time. In one place, there was an effort to incite tensions. But we imposed a curfew, and within a few hours, normalcy was restored. Do people feel more secure now or then? There was no security then, be it for minorities or others. People had to come home by 7. Now, there is no such constraint for anyone, be it a Hindu or a Muslim. He can claim nothing. He took votes in their name, but he did nothing for those classes for whom he claimed to speak. Did he provide education to them? If girls today on cycles are going to school, it has spread for everyone irrespective of community. If roads are being constructed, it is for everyone. People were not able to go the public health system then; it did not work at all. So who lost out the most – the poor, and the Muslims because they are the poorest. What did he do? This is a misnomer. He is like an event, he gives you bytes, and he gives you visuals. It is like a myth. We speak less and work more. We have worked for everyone.

Prashant Jha

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Narasimha Rao wanted to build temple in Ayodhya: Ram Bahadur Rai

Part I 'There are indications in Rao's book of his desire to build a Ram temple'

Ram Bahadur Rai, editor of the Hindi magazine Yathawat, has followed Indian politics for nearly 50 years with passion. The senior commentator knows the Ram temple-Babri masjid movement inside out, having been close to many Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ideologues and, later, worked closely with former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar. Recently he has made some sensational revelations from times past in his magazine on the Ayodhya issue.

In a conversation with Gopal Krishna, in the context of these disclosures, he shares how then prime minister P V Narasimha Rao had a plan to construct a Ram temple in Ayodhya. He also speaks about the politics of Congress leader Digvijaya Singh who had then extended a helping hand to Rao in the latter's efforts to help build a temple there. This is the first of a two-part interview with Rai.
What is the basis of your claims in your magazine that Prime Minister Rao wanted to construct a Ram temple at Ayodhya?
here are two foundations for the claims made in the story. One is Rao’s book which was published after his death. The background to the events of December 6, 1992 (when the Babri masjid was brought down), what happened after that day, and the events of that day find mention in it. There are indications of his desire in that book.
The other book, Wheels Behind the Veil - PMs, CMs and Beyond, by P V R K Prasad, former media advisor and additional secretary to Rao, in which he has said that whatever he has written is not hearsay.
I have written only those things on which I myself was working on or in which I had some role to play.

'Indira Gandhi took a pro-Hindu line'

To contextualise what Rao proposed to do in Ayodhya, it is important to understand what kind of relationship various prime ministers had with the Ayodhya issue and their interventions in the matter from 1947 till 1984. Can you eleborate on this?
On the night of December 22-23, 1949, an idol of Ram Lalla was kept inside the ‘Babri masjid’ religious structure of which the people of the temple movement say it appeared on its own. From that day on, the idol was kept there till 1986, and that is one part of the phase. After the idol was kept there, Govind Ballabh Pant, then Uttar Pradesh chief minister, and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the then deputy prime minister and home minister, decided not to remove the temple and idol.
Uttar Pradesh chief secretary Bhagwan Sahay wanted the idol to be removed to maintain the status quo. K K Nayar, the district commissioner (magistrate), said he can do it but his advice was that this should not be done because he did not have sufficient forces to ensure peace in Ayodhya and the adjoining areas. Ultimately, Sahay allowed, in writing, the idol inside the site. This is evident from available correspondence.
The matter went to the court and even the court allowed the idol to remain there. It made arrangements for proper worship but the front gate was locked by the administration. The idol was inside. Pandits go there thrice to perform puja. Pandits are paid for it. But the front gate of the temple remained locked.
In 1986, one person went to the Faizabad court and asked why although worship has been going on since 1949, the front gate remained locked. The magistrate noted that worship was going on and asked that the lock be opened. 
The incident of opening the temple's lock is related to Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. After the mass conversions in Meenakshipuram, in Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu, in 1981 (where Mallar families en masse converted to Islam, apparently to express political dissent) and the failure of her experiment in Jammu and Kashmir in 1983 (post an accord between Sheikh Abdullah and Indira Gandhi in 1974, the former defeated her in the elections of 1977 and Farooq Abdullah defeated her in March 1983), Indira Gandhi took a political line two years prior to elections. It was a Hindu line.
The upsurge due to the Meenakshipuram incident led to the formation of an organisation called the Virat Hindu Samaj. Dr Karan Singh became its president with the permission of Indira Gandhi. Giridhari Lal Goswami, the father of Ramakant Goswami, minister in the current Sheila Dikshit government, was very active in this Samaj. All shankaracharyas, maths, sects and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad were part of it.
In Uttar Pradesh, Dau Dayal Khanna, a former state Congress minister known to be very close to Indira Gandhi, was the first one to raise the Ayodhya issue in 1983. Around February 1983, a meeting of the Virat Hindu Samaj was organised in Muzaffarnagar. Gulzarilal Nanda, former acting prime minister, presided over the meeting. A senior functionary of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Rajju Bhaiya (Professor Rajendra Singh), was present at the meeting. I was also present. I had come to Delhi in October-November 1982. At the behest of Dr Karan Singh, Dau Dayal Khanna raised the Ayodhya issue.
In 1984, one can understand the VHP’s strength from the a camp it organised in Faizabad on a 50-acre plot of land after cutting down crops with the order of the district collector. Then Congress chief minister Vir Bahadur Singh had instructions from above to facilitate it. It was a camp meant for 5,000 people but only 540 people turned up. The DIG of that time said that very few people have turned up. Other people who turned up later were the people of Chief Minister Vir Bahadur Singh.
Arun Nehru, a Congress minister, knew the Indira Gandhi’s line on the issue. It was at the behest of Nehru that Vir Bahadur Singh asked for the opening of the temple's lock. Later, the VHP made it its own issue in 1984.

'Rao acted in furtherance of what was done by Indira and Rajiv'

What is startling about the disclosure you have made in your cover story?
The conversation which Narasimha Rao had with his media advisor Prasad was unknown until now. There was an impression going around but a recorded conversation was not there. It is not hearsay. It is factual. Everything is factual. I was myself a participant. The story starts thus: Narasimha Rao called Prasad after December 6, 1992, and told him, ‘Woh samajhte hain ki Bhagwan Ram kewal unhi ke hai toh kya Bhagwan Ram unhi ke hain?” (They think that Lord Ram only belongs to them. Does Lord Ram belong to them only?).
There is another thing which I have not said in the story. Rao’s decision to get a temple constructed had its reasons. One was in furtherance of what was being done by Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. He has written in his book all that had happened, but only those aspects which could be written. He indicates how Sardar Patel and Pant had allowed the idol to be kept there.
Besides the facts in the books, what is being disclosed in the story is that senior journalists Nikhil Chakravartty, Prabhash Joshi and R K Mishra went to meet Narasimha Rao and asked why he allowed the Babri masjid to be demolished.
What Rao told them was: "Aap logon ko kya lagta hai ki mujhe rajniti nahi aati? (Do you think I do not know politics?). I want to take away the issue from them (the RSS)."
I was also called by these three journalists whenever their vehicle used to get stuck. I used take appointments with PM Rao for them and sometimes accompanied them.
You were familiar with Chakravartty, Joshi and Mishra and also with their views regarding the Ayodhya issue. In the light of that do you see a corroboration of facts or contradiction between what they have said and what Rao’s media advisor has written in his book?
There is no contradiction. Both were operating at two different levels of dialogue. This has to be kept in mind. What these three veteran journalists were doing was at a different level and Prasad’s level was different. What was common between the two levels was the Ayodhya dispute. These journalists were trying to ensure that prior to December 6, 1992, there could be a compromise between the government and the VHP and RSS.
What these three journalists were doing prior to December 6, 1992, was of their own initiative and not at the instance of Rao. I knew Joshi. It was his initiative to look for some amicable solution. Chakravartty and Joshi were quite independent people and they were involved because they felt that it was their duty. It is possible that Mishra may have been part of the team at Rao’s behest because he was that kind of person. But about Joshi and Chakravartty I can say that they acted of their own volition.
This dialogue was at one level on which negotiations between Rao and the RSS were on. Their role ended on December 6, 1992, but they kept meeting Rao even afterwards. Joshi raised his flag after this incident. But when Rao said, Wahan masjid banayenge (we will get a mosque built there), in Parliament, Joshi said, “Iswhar ke liye aisa na kijiye” (For God’s sake don’t do this).
In public, Rao took this position. But in private, Rao entrusted the task of temple construction to Prasad. The media advisor became active in this matter. Rao had formed a three-member Ayodhya cell. Former Cabinet Secretary Naresh Chandra headed it. Prasad, Gauri Shankar, manager of Sringeri Mutt, and Kishor Kunal were its members. They got the Ramalaya Trust formed.
Another very important disclosure in Prasad’s book is that Digvijaya Singh, the then chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, was working as Rao’s ambassador in this matter. He used the state government’s planes for this work wherever required.



'Digvijaya Singh dances to the tune of whoever is in power'

What are the disclosures about Digvijaya Singh?
Today Singh is wearing the mask of being a sympathiser of Muslims. He has created an image of being a Muslim supporter. Singh should be asked as to the role he played as the ambassador of Rao when he was the chief minister. Is what is alleged by Prasad correct, or is what he is doing today correct?
Digvijaya Singh has two faces. He is an opportunist Congressman. He dances to the tune of whoever is in power. Sonia Gandhi has taken a line to keep the Congress alive with the help of minorities.
Had Singh been intellectually honest he would have raised a debate about it in the party instead of surrendering his earlier beliefs.

It is relevant to recollect that in 2009, Rahul Gandhi gave a speech in Amethi saying had there been someone from his family as prime minister in 1992, the demolition of Babri masjid would not have happened.
How much does he know about his family history? This book reveals that Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi promoted the temple movement.

'Rajiv Gandhi was not political at all'

Why did Rajiv Gandhi start his election campaign in 1991 from Ayodhya?
Rajiv Gandhi was a transparent person. He was not political at all. Some of his decisions are quite right and some are quite wrong. It depended on whether he had the right kind of advisors, which led to him being caught in Bofors controversy. He must have been advised that if the campaign started from Ayodhya both Hindus and Muslims will vote for him because he was responsible for the shilanyas of the temple.
The Ramalaya Trust was created in 1995. What did this trust do?
On January 7, 1993, the Government of India sent a reference to the President under Article 143 (1) of the Constitution seeking opinion as to whether a temple or other structure had existed at the disputed site in Ayodhya among other issues. A five-judge Constitution Bench was constituted by then Chief Justice M N Venkatachaliah. This bench examined the matter.
I understand that Rao got this reference sent as per his plan. It was sent under the assumption that based on evidence the Supreme Court will at least state that there was a temple at the site. In between the Government of India had acquired 67 acres of land. There was an ordinance and an act in the matter of Ayodhya (the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act, 1993). The inference is that the prime minister understood that since he has acquired the land, now the government will be the doer.
Once the decision comes from the Supreme Court on the presidential reference needful action can be taken. Under this Act, the VHP was removed from the scene and the trust of the VHP was to have no role in it. For a temple to be constructed there was a need for an agency since the VHP’s trust was not to be given the land. The Ramalaya Trust was formed for this -- it was created to get the temple constructed.
How far did this plan go?
The Government of India faced a big impediment. Rao got his first setback on October 24, 1994, when the Supreme Court returned the presidential reference. The Supreme Court declined to answer the presidential reference on the question of whether a Hindu temple or other structure had existed at the disputed site prior to the construction of the Babri masjid in Ayodhya.
It rebuked the government for trying to use the court for political purposes, which was Rao’s game-plan. But the court clubbed together different land-ownership title disputes from 1950 till 1984 (perhaps 11 pending cases in different courts) and sent it to the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court. There were many ups and downs during the hearing. On September 30, 2010, the Lucknow bench gave a verdict on the ownership of land. There are many books on it. The high court has decided the title suit. (The Supreme Court stayed the high court’s decision on May 9, 2011.)
Was it not about the 2.77 acres of land which was to be distributed into three parts including the Sunni Muslim Wakf Board?
No, that is only part of the decision. The most important aspect of the court’s decision is that it has accepted that this is Lord Ram’s birth place and Ram Lalla is a party to the dispute. Thus, the ownership has been decided. This had not happened till now, from 1949 till 2010. Now construction of the temple over there is certain. The verdict has given a part of the land for the construction of a mosque over there, too.

Part II of the interview of Ram Bahadur Rai, Editor, Yathawat on Ayodhya

'VHP is trying to revive Ayodhya, but there is no momentum'
Ram Bahadur Rai, editor of Hindi magazine Yathawat and an expert on the Ram Janamabhoomi movement, speaks to Gopal Krishna, how then prime minister P V Narasimha Rao had a plan to construct a Ram temple in Ayodhya and what transpired in the days leading up to and post December 6 1992 in the second and final part of this interview.
You have interacted with prime ministers like V P Singh and Chandrashekhar. What was their approach to the issue of construction of temple in Ayodhya? You have written about your discussion with V P Singh in your book Manzil Se Jyada Safar.
V P Singh’s government was formed with the support of the BJP and the Communist parties. The shilanyas at Ayodhya had happened on November 7, 1989 when Rajiv Gandhi was the PM. At that time Congress leader N D Tiwari was UP chief minister and Buta Singh was the Union home minister. This was the result of an agreement between Rajiv Gandhi and the VHP. On December 2, 1989 V P Singh came to power.
In between, the Babri Masjid Action Committee was formed in 1986 by Syed Shahabuddin, a Janata Dal MP. A tripartite negotiation commenced in which the VHP, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat used to participate besides members of the Babri Masjid Action Committee. A formula had come out during V P Singh’s regime with the help of or at the intervention of (West Bengal Chief Minister) Jyoti Basu for the solution of the Ayodhya issue because L K Advani had launched his rath yatra. But in the end the compromise formula did not work.
After Singh, Chandrashekhar came for four months. Chandrashekhar had almost clinched a solution on the temple issue. Advani had stated in the Parliament that had the Chandrashekhar government remained in power for few months the solution for temple issue could have been found. Chandrashekharji used to say that the moment they almost reached a compromise, Rajiv Gandhi realised that he would solve the temple issue and ensured the fall of his government.
After that Rao came to power, he got a trust made but the trust did not get the land. By then elections were around the corner. Rao expected to return to power but failed.
After that H D Deve Gowda and I K Gujral became prime ministers. During 1996-1998, there was no effort made for any agreement with regard to the temple issue.
During 1998-2004, quite late I think in 2003, talks commenced on the temple issue. This dialogue happened with Muslim leaders like Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi, or simply Ali Mian, the former president of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and Jayendra Sarwaswati, Shankaracharya of Kanchi. There were dialogues on but they were behind the scenes.
Did anything come out of these talks?
No, the Kanchi Shankaracharya went to meet Ali Mian who used to live in Rae Bareli. I have also gone there with journalists Chakravarty, Joshi and Mishra in 1991. Before we met Ali Mian, Kalyan Singh, then UP chief minister who had come to know about our imminent visit had invited and met us and suggested that we should also go to Ayodhya and Faizabad as well. Kalyan Singh spoke to Surendra Kumar, the Faizabad commissioner in this regard. We did go there in 1991 after our visit to Ali Mian’s place in November 1991. Ali Mian gave us lot of books, which is still in my library. We saw the Ayodhya temple from behind for the first time. In 2003 during A B Vajpayee’s regime Jayendra Sarswati and Ali Mian had talks to come up with a formula but it was not successful.
What impact did the findings of Archeological Survey of India about the remains of Hindu temple and Buddhist temple at the disputed site have on the campaign for temple construction?
After the demolition of Babri mosque, the ASI undertook excavation. It came to light that the Babri Masjid was constructed on the pillar of a temple.
Historians who were divided into two parts on the issue, one part of these historians held that there was no proof of temple at the site. But the ASI found that there is sufficient proof. The 2010 judgment has come on the basis of those ASI findings.
It is significant to know what happened 15 days prior to December 6, 1992 and 15 days after the event? What were the outcomes of negotiations that were going on?
In short, in 1992, intense talks between the government and the VHP from July 1992 to December 4, 1992 continued at different levels. There were four levels. One level was the one in which these three journalists were involved, second, dialogue between the government and the VHP, third was between the government and the BJP and fourth one was between central government and the BJP-led state government.

As far as I know, these three journalists never contacted VHP because they knew its role. They knew that the matter can only be solved at the level of the BJP and RSS leaders with their intervention. On three occasions, I was with them when talks happened with Vajpayee, Advani and Rajju Bhaiya. They realised that the talks with BJP leaders will not work. They understood that the ultimate decision will be taken by the RSS.
Prabhash Joshi had asked me get an appointment from Rajju Bhaiya for these three journalists. I talked to Rajju Bhaiya’s secretary, Shiv Narayan Singh and ensured that the talks happened as they considered me as a friend and not as journalist. I used to have easy entry in Jhandelwalan office of the RSS even when it used to be out of bounds for media. I had suggested to Rajju Bhaiya that all the RSS office bearers in Delhi should be asked to speak to these journalists. The conversation continued for long hours.
There was another level at which the government was making efforts. On December 4, 1992, the then IB Director met Rajju Bhaiya on behalf of Narasimha Rao. This fact must be there in the books that have come out on the issue. The talks finally broke down on December 4.
Rao’s proposal was that the Kar Sewa that was supposed to happen on December 6 should be stopped but Rajju Bhaiya did not agree to it. What needs to be understood is that in the long talks with the RSS, the VHP, Rao wanted the Kar Sewa to be stopped and dialogues to continue. The problem before the RSS and the VHP was that during Rao’s tenure the Kar Sewa was postponed several times earlier. Had Kar Sewa been stopped even this time, the credibility of the temple movement would have suffered. Andolan ki naak kat jaati, because the RSS and the VHP had used their full energy and appealed for the Kar Sewa.
BJP senior leaders L K Advani and Dr Murli Manohar Joshi were on their rath yatra. Uma Bharti, Sadhvi Ritambhara were part of the movement. Till the evening of December 5, some 2.5-3 lakh people had gathered there. Besides RSS and VHP people even those who were not affiliated with them actively had turned up in large numbers. Some had even walked on foot to reach there.
Rao wanted to destroy the credibility of the RSS, the VHP and the BJP forever this time. The difficulty for the parivar outfits was that they had appealed to the people and now they could not have backtracked. No one had full control on the people who had gathered there.
It is a matter of research as to what happened on December 6. Was it the mob which did it or was it part of planning? It is my belief that it was part of the pre-planning of some VHP people. I know the person that who had planned it. But the Central Bureau of Investigation which was asked to probe could never reach him. The CBI reached and charge-sheeted only known faces. It could not reach the mind behind this event. On December 6, it happened by afternoon.
Now there are two versions about it. Kuldip Nayar’s book Beyond the Lines narrates that Narasimha Rao kept sitting for his worship when the kar sevaks began pulling it down and rose only when the Babri Masjid was demolished. He got up only when the last stone was removed. This version is untruthful.
The person who told him did not know about it. Rao has written about what he did on December 6 in his book. How he called the concerned people at his residence at 3, Race Course. But I am narrating what he has not written in his book.
According to Congress Rajya Sabha MP, H S Hanspal who was very close to Rao, the prime minister remained sitting in the lawns on the back of his residence on December 6. R K Khandekar, Rao’s secretary used to come and brief Hanspal at regular intervals. When the masjid was demolished, Rao got up from his chair in the lawns.
Whatever Rao did as per his book he did only after the demolition. Even what his media advisor has written is corroborative of Rao’s version, it is not contradictory. He has referred to the assurances from leaders. Khandekar remained with Rao till the latter’s death in 2004.
What was Narasimha Rao’s first reaction after the demolition of the Babri mosque? He is believed to have said that the BJP, the RSS and the VHP betrayed him.
Rao was an experienced and wise person. When the talks broke down on December 4, he understood what was going to happen to the religious structure on December 6. I think even Rao wanted this to happen. He was a political person. He wanted to snatch the temple issue away from the BJP, the RSS and the VHP. The rest is a matter of assumption. It is a fact that Rao had never thought of becoming the prime minister.
The Congress had not given him ticket to fight the elections in 1991. His politics had ended. He had almost shifted to Andhra Pradesh. He used to live at 9, Motilal Nehru Marg before becoming the prime minister and after that. But suddenly after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991 because he was the tallest leader in the Congress after Rajiv Gandhi, he was made the president of Congress and then the prime minister.
I saw Narasimha Rao in Parliament from my seat no 21 exactly above Speaker’s chair in the Parliament’s press gallery that he used to remain unruffled amidst hullaballoo unlike Manmohan Singh. It was difficult to read his face. He accepted December 6 as inevitable. Whatever he has written in his book is for public consumption.
Prasad, in this book, refers to an assurance by the BJP leaders in the matter of the Chalo Ayodhya campaign that it would remain peaceful. He was with the prime minister. Rao was deeply concerned about the law and order situation. He has explained the role of the prime minister and why President’s rule was not imposed in Uttar Pradesh. He reveals that Narasimha Rao was watching TV to comprehend the goings on in Ayodhya on December 6.
After that Justice Liberhan inquiry commission was constituted which submitted its report on June 30, 2009, what were its findings?
Rao spoke to Naresh Chandra, former cabinet secretary and on his suggestion this commission was constituted. They understood that the commission stretched itself for quite a long time. Perhaps the report has not been tabled in Parliament.
What was the political fallout of the December 6, 1992 event. Who gained and who lost as a consequence? Political slogans like Garibi Hatao and Mandir Banao were never fulfilled. How do unfulfilled promises and slogans adversely impact the prestige of political parties?
The event of December 6, 1992 changed India’s politics. It had two contradictory consequences. One was that Hindutva politics came to the centre-stage, everything else went to background. Socialism, Communism, the middle path of the Congress, everything which was going on in politics since 1947 till 1992, this event overturned this. Ye mera mat hai. December 6 ko jo kuch hua mein usko uchit manta hu. Ye hona hi tha. Ye apariharya tha. Jis tarike se hua wah galat hua. (This is my view that December 6 was appropriate. It was bound to happen. It was inevitable. But the way it happened was not appropriate.)
I spoke to Atal Bihari Vajpayee on December 6 between 9.30-10 pm on the phone. I met and talked to him that night. Vajpayee issued the statement, which I had written, some 15-16 sentences on his notepad. He asked someone to bring some sweets for me but I said this is not the occasion for sweets. He asked me as to what happened there in Ayodhya. Kalyan Singh was saying that he was also not told till 6 pm. I told him that December 6 has presented an occasion to turn it into a movement.
I asked him to issue a statement the next day advising the kar sewaks and leaders present in Ayodhya to own the act of demolition of Babri mosque on affidavit nahi to December 6 kalank ki tarah peecha karega (else December 6 will haunt like a stigma). Vajpayee agreed to spread this idea but decided not make this statement. He tried for it but he did not succeed. Had some 1 lakh or 1.5 lakh people given that affidavit it would have created a new kind of movement.
Because Muslims were not ready for it earlier, they are not ready now and they are unlikely to be ready in near future, as a reaction, terrorism took birth. The right thing would have been that the Muslim leaders should have accepted that this is not a matter of temple and land but it is a matter of rashtriya akansha (national desire).
How is the issue of construction of temple relevant for Bangladesh and Pakistan? What impact does it have over there?
Do not include Bangladesh in it. Pakistan is a terrorist state. This event helped the aim of Pakistan to promote terrorism. Bangladesh is not in this category. It keeps changing like under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina. There is a conflict which is on since the birth of Bangladesh. When there is a different party in government then Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence becomes active over there. It is more relevant for Pakistan.
Both the Congress and the BJP have similar approach on the issue of construction of temple either in public or private. Is it true or not?
Till the arrival of Sonia Gandhi, it was the same. After her arrival it has changed.
Is it that what started from Somnath temple has continued till P V Narasimha Rao’s plan for construction of the temple?
The mainstream of the Congress was always in favour of temple from day one. Jawaharlal Nehru used to keep himself above it. But Somnath temple was constructed during his tenure. His minister K M Munshi got this temple constructed. He was responsible for the temple construction. It was constructed by the government of India.
Munshi was ready to resign but not give up his work of temple. After Sardar Patel’s death, President Dr Rajendra Prasad inaugurated the newly-constructed temple. The mainstream of the Congress was supportive of temple either implicitly or explicitly.
How do non-BJP and non-Congress parties especially the Left and socialist parties in particular look at the issue of construction of temple in Ayodhya?
This is a group which has lost its political path. The secular line which is there in our country is based on the wrong understanding of secularism or is based on western secularism. Secularism means Sarv Dharam Sambhav. But here people who are secular are making untruthful propaganda into their principled position.
Since 1984, the Left historians have raised flags and have been arguing that there is no proof of temple at Ayodhya where the mosque was constructed. But in 2010, when even the court ruled that there was temple, some historians were proved right, although, they do not have evidence for it but there is circumstantial evidence which is spread all over the country. Like the Gyanvapi mosque, it is a mosque which was converted into a temple. It is either due to the political compulsion or ignorance or misunderstanding of history of these groups. 
How do the poor benefit from having a mosque in Mecca, a church in the Vatican and a temple in Ayodhya? How are the exploited masses beneficiaries from it?
See, a mosque, a church and a temple are part of Dharm Tantra. Dharm Tantra is a Satta (state) in its own right. The poor are not in its agenda. The spread of Dharm Tantra alone is in its agenda. For the poor there is Rajya Tantra. In our country there was a system of keeping the king under dharma but that system is not there for 1,000 years.
What did VHP expected to gain from its planned 84 Kosi Yatra during August-September 2013? What has it gained and lost from it?
Yathwat has published an interview of the VHP’s Ashok Singhal in this matter. Besides that my impression is that VHP has been trying to get a temple constructed there. For that they made this effort to rejuvenate the movement. But there is a question mark on the momentum it can gain the intensity of 1991-1992.