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Mulayam passes buck

Lucknow, Nov. 17: Faced with a furore from allies, the Congress and the Left, the Mulayam Singh Yadav government today blamed its clean chit to BJP leaders in the Babri demolition case on a “lawyer’s goof-up”.

“The affidavit seems to have been ill-drafted, giving rise to interpretations not intended in the government’s brief,” state chief secretary A.P. Singh said.

As if to prove the point, the government decided to replace R.C. Verma, its advocate on record. The government will file a supplementary affidavit in the Supreme Court tomorrow.

“Our stand is that since a central agency is investigating the case and the matter is sub judice, the state government had no role to play and can neither confirm nor deny whether there was a conspiracy,” Singh said.

The state’s stand had remained the same during the terms of Kalyan Singh, Rajnath Singh and Mayavati, he said.

The explanation has left Mulayam Singh’s allies far from convinced. They now want him to prove his secular credentials. “It’s difficult to believe that the government’s stand on such a sensitive issue could be dictated by a counsel. The responsibility rests on higher ups,” CPI leader Ashok Mishra said.

State CPM leaders went further. “If Mulayam wants to convince us of his commitment to secularism, he must issue a fresh notification transferring the case against Advani and others from the Rae Bareli Court to the Lucknow Court where a joint chargesheet about the conspiracy was originally filed by the CBI,” said Vijay Shant, a member of the party state executive.

Congress leaders, too, spewed fire. “This is not the first time Mulayam has shown his pro-BJP inclination. We have asked the high command to reconsider backing him if he does not change tack,” state chief Jagdambika Pal said.

Legislature party leader Pramod Tewari said Mulayam Singh’s acceptance of a BJP man as Speaker had strengthened the suspicion that he was hobnobbing with the BJP.

Muslim outfits said they would launch a countrywide protest if the state government tried to shield the Babri accused.

“The affidavit saying no political party was involved in the demolition of the mosque on December 6, 1992 was a travesty of truth,” Babri Masjid Action Committee convener Zafaryab Jilani said.

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