'Vajpayee is under pressure from the RSS'

Print edition : December 23, 2001

After the demolition of the Babri Masjid, the Congress(I) regime at the Centre gave Motilal Vora an important assignment: he was made Governor of Uttar Pradesh in May 1993. Many parts of the State were then divided deeply on communal lines, social life was characterised by a sense of distrust, and the twin towns of Ayodhya and Faizabad were yet to return to normal. Vora was asked to set right the situation. In six months, the State had Assembly elections. The general consensus then was that the v eteran politician from Madhya Pradesh had done a commendable job. Now, as general secretary of the Congress(I) in charge of Uttar Pradesh, Vora is once again dealing with the Ayodhya issue, this time to prepare the party's strategy to "counter the commun al thrust" at the grassroots. Venkitesh Ramakrishnan spoke to him in the context of the recent developments on the Ayodhya front. Excerpts from the interview:

The Congress(I) has not ever championed the Babri Masjid issue as vociferously as it has done in the recent past. Is this part of a new strategy?

The Congress(I) has consistently opposed the BJP's communalism. We have also been trying to expose the charade they staged in the name of political and moral propriety. When Harin Pathak (former Minister of State for Defence) soon after he was charge-she eted, we decided that we should pressure the BJP to use the same yardstick for other leaders, like L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi. You cannot have two yardsticks for constitutional and moral propriety. Now the BJP and several constituents of the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) stand thoroughly exposed before the nation.

First, the BJP and the NDA have shown that they have different standards for different leaders and different issues. Also that they say something and do something else. It is not just the BJP that is exposed. Look at the Telugu Desam Party, the DMK (Drav ida Munnetra Kazhagam), the MDMK (Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam). They have all become advocates of the demolishers of the Babri Masjid. Secondly, it has been proved beyond doubt that the NDA agenda is only a facade for the BJP and that the part y is completely ruled by the diktats of the RSS. Thirdly, the so-called moderate, secular, liberal image of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has come off.

Clearly, his political morality is under question now. What can you say about a Prime Minister who virtually impedes the functioning of a department under him to protect a political colleague? The CBI works under the Prime Minister, and it is this agency that has charge-sheeted Advani, Joshi and Uma Bharti in the Babri Masjid demolition case. But the head of the department says publicly that what his department has done is not correct. What is the kind of morale that you are spreading among the officers ?

More important, what is your commitment to the legal system? Somebody has been charge-sheeted, the case is to be heard by the court, and before all that the Prime Minister says the accused are innocent. This is nothing short of prejudging the case.

Politically, why do you think the Prime Minister supported his charge-sheeted colleagues? On the face of it, he had nothing to gain.

There are various theories about this, but as far as I can see, the most important reason is that Vajpayee is under pressure from the RSS leadership. There could be other factors too, such as the urge to divert attention from the serious economic crisis that the country is facing.

Lakhs of villages are facing drought conditions and the government has not done anything apart from showing some favouritism to BJP-ruled States. This diversionary tactic is something that the Sangh Parivar has used all the time.

Several Opposition parties have complained that the Congress(I) did not try to evolve floor coordination with them in Parliament while raising the Ayodhya-related issues and that it went about the agitation in a secretive manner and tried to monopoli se the proceedings.

These allegations should never have come up. The Congress(I) has always fought against communalism as well as political and constitutional improprieties on the strength of its conviction. It has also tried to involve other Opposition parties wherever pos sible.

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