The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP builds Friday shield for Advani

New Delhi, Sept. 16: With the special court in Rae Bareli expected to decide on Friday on framing of charges against L.K. Advani and others in the Babri demolition case, the emerging view in the BJP is that the deputy Prime Minister will not resign if the verdict is negative.

Nobody was willing to go on record in anticipation of the judgment. However, a senior BJP functionary said: “We believe there is no reason for Advani to step down because this is a politically motivated case.”

When Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Laloo Prasad Yadav quit as Bihar chief minister after being chargesheeted in the fodder scam, the BJP was quick to draw a distinction between “corruption” and participation “in a political agitation”. It took the stand that no corrupt person should hold public office, but being involved in a political agitation was a different matter.

“It is a common thing to level false charges like inciting a mob or attacking the police against political leaders by their rivals. This is the kind of allegation that has been brought against Advani and the others, people know they are baseless. So there is no reason why they should demit office,” the functionary argued.

But a smaller section in the party believes that if Advani continues as minister, the Opposition would not allow Parliament to function.

It pointed out that the boycott of senior minister George Fernandes, whose conduct came under a cloud following the Tehelka disclosures, is still on — he is disallowed from taking questions.

This section fears that a similar fate awaits Advani, who also holds the home portfolio.

On the flip side, the BJP insisted it is in a “win-win” situation. “If he is exonerated, it is very good news. But if charges are framed, our cadre will be motivated because it means Ayodhya and Advani’s leadership will be back on the political centre-stage. It could well turn the tide completely in our favour in the coming elections,” claimed a source.

It is expected that Advani would lead another rath yatra to galvanise the BJP and its supporters.

When he was named in the hawala scam in 1996, he demitted his Lok Sabha membership and launched a yatra to take the “fight for justice” to the people.

The issue reportedly figured in the long meeting RSS and BJP leaders had at BJP chief M. Venkaiah Naidu’s residence on Saturday.

Special judge of the Rae Bareli court V.K. Singh said last Friday that he would hear arguments on framing of charges exactly a week later.

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