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HVK Archives: 'RSS chief had told Rao that something will happen in Ayodhya on Dec 6'

'RSS chief had told Rao that something will happen in Ayodhya on Dec 6' - The Indian Express

Neerja Chowdhury ()
16 February 1997

Title : 'RSS chief had told Rao that something will happen in Ayodhya on Dec 6' - Interview of the week : L. K. Advani
Author : Neerja Chowdhury
Publication : The Indian Express
Date : February 16, 1997

The tentativeness which surrounded L.K Advani's actions in 1996,
which according to him was the most challenging year in his
political career, has disappeared. When the BJP chief talked to
NEERJA CHOWDHURY after his party's impressive performance in the
byelections and the Punjab assembly polls, he was as confident and
tough as ever before. Excerpts from an exclusive interview:

The Akali hardliners have denied deputy chief ministership to the
BJP which was supposed to he part of the pre-poll pact between the
two parties.

Frankly, we had never talked of it. It was during the election
campaign that someone talked about Tandonji (Balramjidass Tandon)
becoming the deputy chief minister. The situations in Maharashtra
and Punjab are different. In Punjab the Akalis have a majority on
their own.

Did the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) give you any assurance that they
would not rake up the Anandpur Sahib resolution or did you seek
such a promise?

No. The Akalis' own manifesto makes a mention of it. But had they
insisted on including it in the joint minimum programme, the talks
would have got bogged down.

Coalition politics is forcing every party to moderate Its stand...

I don't subscribe to the view that single party rule is now
impossible. Our allies like the Samata Party keep telling us to
moderate our stand on issues like Article 370 or civil code. We
have not done it. You should not forget that BJP's phase of growth
has been when it has asserted.

Our separate identity is the continuation of one phase of the
Congress. There were two streams in the pre-1947 Congress, one
represented by Gandhiji, Rajaji, Patel and Rajendrababu, of
cultural nationalism, and the other by Nehruji and Azad. These
coexisted till 1950 when Purushottam Das Tandon became the Congress
President. A significant letter was written by Nehru at the time
that he could not reconcile himself to a party-led by Tandon. Since
then the first stream has disappeared. Patel also died at the same
time. Nehru may have held an honest viewpoint but distortions crept
in later and secularism became a euphemism for vote bank politics.

The Congress lost out when it ceased to he an umbrella party taking
every section along. Whatever you may say, you are perceived as an
anti-Muslim force. What are you going to do to win the confidence
of the Muslims?

We have to create it by sheer performance and action on the ground.
Why did Gandhiji's defence of Vande Matram not go down well with
the Muslims? Could Jinnah make Gandhiji renege on his basic
beliefs in Ram Dhun, Ram Rajya or cow protection?

Are you not on the lookout for allies?

No. This springs from a sense of jitteriness over the attitude of
other parties towards us. The BJP is the only party which has been
growing in the last decade. Our growth rate is not able to match
the rate of decline of the Congress, which is much more.

We will win and there will be a BJP government at the Centre. But
what really concerns me is the success in our performance. We have
to bring different kinds of people into politics.

You have said that you made a mistake in Gujarat. What were you
alluding to?

One, our leadership in the state assembly was not in touch with the
MLAs as they should have been, and I should have corrected them.
Secondly, after the Khajuraho episode of Shankersinh Waghela, it
was wrong to take them back in the party unconditionally-without
any kind of apology.

Are you going to stand for party presidentship again?

There's no question of it. My two terms are over. Some people
have been talking about amending the constitution but I have said
no.

The last year has been a difficult one for you. Did you think of
quitting?

I toyed with the idea of quitting but that was before being
chargesheeted. That was after our Bombay session where I announced
that if we get a majority, Vajpayiji would be our prime minister. I
thought that if we were able to achieve that goal, then it may be
time for me to quit. I did discuss this with a couple of friends.
But after the chargesheet, I abandoned the idea and felt that I
must fight back.

Do you feel it was mistake to accept the President's invitation to
form a government last May?

No. It could have been-if we had been allowed to continue for
five-six months.

Would you stake your claim to form government again if the present
Government falls?

Prima facie, my reaction would be no. But it cannot be ruled out.
It's a matter to he considered at the time.

What really went wrong between you and Narasimha Rao over the Babri
Masjid?

I really don't know. My own feeling is that his anger is over the
Harshad (Mehta) affair. On the eve of our Bangalore session in
1993 we received word about the Harshad Mehta episode and I said he
should resign, with such a serious charge and have an independent
enquiry. Is par yeh bigrhe (He was angry at this).

Two months after that, the Romesh Bhandari episode took place. The
Statesman published transcripts of a tape-recorded conversation in
which Bhandari, the then Governor of Tripura, had told Jain, an
income tax lawyer, to go to Geneva and get an affidavit from
someone to allege that he had sent money to Harshad, and given Rs
one crore to Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi and Ram Jethmalani.
This fell through because of the newspaper report. I believe that
was the first attempt to frame me.

The day I was chargesheeted, I had got word of it at 5.30 p.m. from
the Supreme Court. At around 6.30 p.m., a person close to the
prime minister telephoned a journalist considered close to the BJP
and asked, "Kyon adhyaksha ji ka kya haal hai? Shock laga? (So how
is your president? Was he shocked?)"

Around 8 p.m. I announced my decision to resign. Again at 10.30
p.m., the same person phoned again. The first time he was gleeful.
The second time he seemed disconcerted. The person as e , why did
he (Advani) over-react? Then he added, "PV only wanted to settle
scores about what he said about Harshad".

You and Rajju Bhaiyya (the RSS supremo) are believed to have gone
to see Rao three days before the Demolition to ask him to send word
to the courts to advance their verdict to facilitate kar seva?

I did not meet Rao during those days. I left for Varanasi on the
31st (November, 1992).

Did you ever assure Rao that nothing would happen to the Babri
Masjid?

I did not apprehend anything would happen. There was no question
of assuring him.

But what is significant, and this has not come out so far, is that
Rajju Bhaiyya did tell him that "itne log ikathe hote hain, kahin
kuch ho jaye, to Bhagwan bachaye" (So many people are gathering,
God save us if something happens.) Rao said, "Kuch nahin hoga
(Nothing will happen). I'm sure."

All Rajju Bhaiyya told him was that he should send word to the
Allahabad High Court to give its decision before December 6. The
idea was that if the acquisition is upheld by the Court, fine. If
it's struck down, then all those plots taken over by the government
would revert to the owners and several of those belonged to the
VHP. And formal kar seva could begin there.

Rao was confident that nothing would happen?

Whether he was confident that nothing would happen, or he wanted
something to happen is a matter of conjecture. But the RSS pramukh
told him that something could happen and he said nothing would
happen.



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