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‘Rao govt was reduced to position of helpless bystander’

Citing “Constitutional restraints” on the PV Narasimha Rao regime,the Liberhan Commission gave it a clean chit for its perceived...

Citing “Constitutional restraints” on the PV Narasimha Rao regime,the Liberhan Commission gave it a clean chit for its perceived inaction in preventing the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Instead,the Commission put the onus on the Kalyan Singh government in Uttar Pradesh,“either badly flawed or overly optimistic” assessment of Governor Satyanarayan Reddy and “the unfathomable trust” the Supreme Court placed in the paper declarations of the Sangh Parivar.

Rao had submitted to the Commission that his government could not have imposed President’s Rule in UP given the categorical assurance by the state government to the Supreme Court and the National Integration Council to the effect that the state would ensure that no harm comes to the disputed structure. The Governor also warned against President’s Rule,stating the general law and order situation,especially on the communal front,was satisfactory.

“In 1992,the central government had been blinded and handicapped — by the inaction of its own agent in the state and by the unfathomable trust the Supreme Court placed in the paper declarations of the Sangh Parivar,” the Commission concluded.

The repeated communications and parleys from the centre to the state,imploring the latter to utilise the paramilitary forces were “a clear pointer to the intention of the central government to avoid the catastrophe”,according to the Commission. “On the other hand,the systematic campaign of untrue assurances and assertions of self-sufficiency by the state government placed the Centre in an impossible situation where it was reduced to the position of a helpless bystander,” the Commission said in its report. “President’s Rule ought to have been imposed in the state — that is beyond any doubt,as evidenced by the events of December 1992 and later. However,the constitutional restraints imposed on the central government were cleverly utilised by the State Government at the time to deprive it of this option.”

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All the acts of the state government,BJP,VHP,Bajrang Dal,Shiv Sena and Sangh Parivar and the speeches of leaders were “so articulated as to ensure that no cause was made available to the central government to invoke Articles 355 or 356 of the Constitution”. The dice was “irredeemably loaded” in favour of the state government.

Pointing out that Rao was heading a minority government,the Commission accepted the centre’s submission that central forces could neither be deployed by the Union in the totality of facts and circumstances then prevailing,nor could President’s Rule be imposed “on the basis of rumours or media reports”. Taking such a step would have created “bad precedent” damaging the federal structure of and would have “amounted to interference” in the state administration,it said. The state “deliberately and consciously understated” the risk to the disputed structure and general law and order.

“The Governor could possibly have played a better role in alerting the government to the factual situation and provided the basis for central intervention,even without the state government’s concurrence. However,as it turned out,the Governor’s assessment of the situation was either badly flawed or overly optimistic and was thus a major impediment for the central government,” it said.


It further stated: “Knowing fully well that its facetious undertakings before the Supreme Court had bought it sufficient breathing space,it (state government) proceeded with the planning for the destruction of the disputed structure. The Supreme Court’s own observer failed to alert it to the sinister undercurrents. The Governor and its intelligence agencies,charged with acting as the eyes and ears of the central government also failed in their task. Without substantive procedural prerequisites,neither the Supreme Court,nor the Union of India was able to take any meaningful steps.”

First published on: 25-11-2009 at 02:42:46 am
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