M A I N   N E W S

Submission of report ill-timed, feel Cong leaders
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, June 30
The UPA government’s hopes of having a smooth run in Parliament were dashed today with the Liberhan Commission submitting its report just before the Budget session.

The faction-ridden BJP is unlikely to play the role of a constructive opposition as promised by it earlier, especially since the commission has probed the role of its senior leaders, LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, on that fateful day.

Realising that the issue will cast a shadow over the Budget session commencing on July 2, senior Congress leaders today admitted the submission of the report was “ill-timed” as it could re-energise the saffron party, revive the Ram temple campaign and give it an opportunity to accuse the UPA government of minority appeasement and political vendetta.

Well aware of the pitfalls of adopting a strident stance on the sensitive issue, the UPA government today indicated its intention to play it down. Senior Congress leaders privately admitted it “will not help if they are indiscreet” and cited the example of the Janata Party in 1977 which ended up helping Indira Gandhi with its relentless campaign against her.

“The government is unlikely to act on the report till the Budget session is over. However, it can initiate action on it before the Maharashtra elections in October ” remarked a senior UPA leader, adding that the ruling combine would buy time on the pretext of reading and scrutinising the 1,000-page report before placing it in the public domain. The whole process could take two to three months, it was stated.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi’s cautious response to today’s development was clear indication of how the issue is being viewed by the party and the government. “We will not comment on findings of the report till it is tabled in Parliament….it has to be first processed by the Home Ministry which will also come out with an action taken report,” the spokesperson maintained.

The government’s options would depend entirely on the contents of the report, he added.

He was, however, quick to respond to the BJP charge that the Congress was indulging in minority appeasement. “This is yet another example of a guilty mind protesting too much,” Singhvi remarked, adding that the masjid’s demolition was a milestone event and that the government would be well within its rights to take action of the culpability of individuals and parties is proved.

Although there are senior Congress leaders like Digvijay Singh who believe they should not soft-pedal the issue, the party is in no hurry. The Congress assessment is that the matter will create more turmoil in the BJP, which is grappling with a serious ideological crisis. There is a section in the BJP, which has been advocating a soft Hindutva approach after its poor performance in the recent elections.

However, this report could well push the party back to its hardline Hindutva agenda that clearly did not find favour with the electorate in the last month’s elections.



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