BJP believes in innocence of its leaders in Babri case: Prasad

Party asks leaders to downplay issue in public
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Agencies
NEW DELHI
20 Apr 2017

The BJP believes in the innocence of its leaders in the Babri Masjid case, party leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said today and rejected as "imaginary" a question on whether the Supreme Court order will impact the possible candidature of L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi in the Presidential and Vice Presidential polls.

"We believe in the innocence of our important leaders, including Advani ji and Joshi ji...They have been facing trial and they will face trial in terms of process of law," Prasad told newspersons here. Asked whether the SC order asking them to face trial will impact their candidature for the posts of the President and the Vice President, elections for which are due in the next few months, the Union minister said he would not respond to "imaginary" questions. While the term of President Pranab Mukherjee is coming to an end on July 24, the term of Vice President Hamid Ansari ends on August 10.

Top BJP leaders Advani, Joshi and Uma Bharti will be tried for criminal conspiracy in the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case as the Supreme Court had on Wednesday allowed a CBI plea for restoring the charge against them. The apex court, however, noted that Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh enjoys constitutional immunity and can be tried only after he ceases to hold the office. Singh was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in 1992. Prasad said the case relating to the demolition is not a new one and had been on since 1993.

"It has gone through various stages of justice...It was a Supremer Court order which said cases in Lucknow and Rae Bareli should go on separately. Now the court has said that the two cases be clubbed together. Both are the Supreme Court's orders. The Supreme Court is supreme," he said. The Supreme Court verdict may have brought its sidelined stalwarts into the spotlight but the BJP has decided to tread cautiously on the matter asking its leaders to downplay its import in public. Party president Amit Shah's direction to Union minister Uma Bharti to cancel her trip to Ayodhya hours after she announced it is a case in point, a party leader said.

BJP was also quick to dismiss reports last night that Shah had spoken to Advani. Union minister Arun Jaitley had on Wednesday said that the case has been going on since 1993 and that no new situation has arisen. "So the situation which was prevailing will continue," he had told newspersons. Jaitley had also virtually ruled out resignation of Bharti from the government following the court order and described as "hypothetical" the possibility of the ruling having any bearing in selection of candidates for presidential and vice presidential polls.

While the saffron outfit would be happy with the Ram temple issue being pushed to the fore, it would not "jump the gun" on a matter decided by the apex court and let the issue rather pan out in courts. A daily trial to be completed in two years will suit its interest as the Hindutva issue will continue to simmer till the next Lok Sabha polls in 2019.
Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah, the party has shown its adeptness in blending its cultural agenda with that of development and has reaped rich harvest, most notably in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls.

While it has not much to lose, the situation is different for Joshi and Advani, the latter in a twist of irony seeing his political future being dealt a body blow by an issue which made him a Hindutva icon in 90s as he led his party to an unprecedented electoral high before Modi bettered it in 2014. The two former party presidents, who are now out of the organisation's decision-making bodies and are members of 'margdarshk mandal' which has never met, have so far maintained a silence over the verdict.