Within hours of the Supreme Court placing senior BJP leaders L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Union Minister Uma Bharti on a joint trial with ‘kar sevaks’ over the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992, the BJP core committee met in New Delhi. It is learnt there was broad consensus that “the leaders should stand trial and get acquittal” from the court.
At least two persons familiar with what transpired at the meeting of the core committee — it was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, M Venkaiah Naidu and Nitin Gadkari — said that “the best course of action for BJP leaders is to stand trial and get acquittal.”
“The CBI stand — it went in appeal against the dropping of charges against the leaders — was formulated in 2011 when the UPA government was in power. The agency could not have taken a different stand now,” sources said. A party leader who has closely tracked the case said: “The CBI stand wasn’t changed in this case even when Advaniji was Deputy Prime Minister and Joshiji was Education Minister. In such cases, one has to get acquittal through court. The process cannot be reversed through CBI.”
This was in response to murmurs in the party that the CBI should have taken a different stand. Many in the BJP expressed “surprise” that the agency pushed its case against the veteran leaders at a time when the party is ruling the Centre and Uttar Pradesh. Another party leader said he was confident that Advani and others would be acquitted, claiming “the charges cannot be proved… they were not part of any conspiracy, if there was one”.
The leader conceded that the shifting of the case from Rae Bareli to Lucknow is to the “disadvantage” of the party veterans who have been named as accused. According to the leader, the Rae Bareli court proceedings were almost over and a judgment was expected later this year.
The BJP core group also discussed the situation in Kashmir at its meeting. “Our view is that it’s a challenging situation but we will get it under control soon,” one of the leaders said. Another leader said: “If pus formation increases in any body part, do you allow the wound to fester or make an incision to remove the pus? Any cure gives pain. Security forces will continue to act against trouble makers.”