Advani in the Lok Sabha on Monday. (PTI)
New Delhi, Nov. 23: Atal Bihari Vajpayee today found a knight to protect his honour, but L.K. Advani seemed to have unwittingly walked into a trap.
As MPs demanded that the government table the allegedly leaked Liberhan Commission report, Advani said that while there could be reasons for indicting him in the Babri Masjid demolition, there was no ground for dragging in Vajpayees name.
A newspaper report today said the commission that probed the demolition had indicted former Prime Minister Vajpayee, Advani and senior leader BJP Murli Manohar Joshi for their role in the assault on the mosque.
Amid shouts of shame, shame from BJP members, the leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha said it was his duty to protect Vajpayees honour.
A combative Advani, who had himself sought suspension of question hour for the first time in his parliamentary career, said he was shocked to see Vajpayees name in the allegedly leaked conclusions of the panel that probed the 1992 demolition.
I understand I or my party being indicted. Many people say Advani mobilised the crowd. I apprehended that I can be indicted, but Vajpayee…? He is not keeping well, I worked under him and I feel the obligation to protect his honour, he said.
But Advanis attempt to confront the government was greeted with curiosity by MPs from other parties. Many wondered if he was not betraying a lack of self-confidence.
The BJP veteran went on to say he was proud of his association with the Ayodhya movement and would continue to work for the construction of a Ram temple. But it was a blatant lie that the demolition was planned, he said. There was no plan, no decision to demolish the structure. It was an accident. I had said at the Liberhan Commission hearing that it was the saddest day of my life.
He also claimed that every senior leader from the RSS and the BJP present at the site on that December day had tried to stop the demolition. Advani said the BJP was shocked to see the report had been leaked to the media and the government could not now delay tabling it even by a day.
Leaders of other parties, among them Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party, Basudeb Acharya of the CPM, Dara Singh Chauhan of the BSP and Arjun Charan Sethi of the BJD, also demanded that the report be tabled immediately.
After the government refused, BJP members rushed to the well shouting slogans. Speaker Meira Kumar first adjourned the House till 12pm and then till 2pm. When the ruckus continued after the lunch break, she wrapped up proceedings for the day.
Rajya Sabha ruckus
The Upper House was adjourned, too, after home minister P. Chidambarams assurance that the report would be tabled in the current session of Parliament failed to satisfy BJP members.
We shall table it during the (current) winter session…. It is unfortunate that a newspaper has published what purports to be the contents of the report, Chidambaram said.
The leader of the Opposition in the House, Arun Jaitley, said the alleged leak had lowered the dignity of the House.
We want a discussion on why the report was made available to the media even before being made available to the House. Why cant the government table the report and have a discussion on it right away?
The BJP leader said the government was responsible for the leak. As far as the report is concerned, it is either available with the Liberhan Commission or the home ministry. The newspaper report quotes home ministry sources on the contents of the Liberhan Commission report, he said.
But Chidambaram said there was only one copy in safe custody…. I can assure the House that none from the ministry of home affairs has spoken to any journalist.