The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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After Ram, blow to Lal Krishna
BJP chief to face trial

New Delhi, July 6: A day after the Ayodhya terror attack, a bolt from the court struck Lal Krishna Advani, pushing modern India’s most divisive dispute from the wings to centre stage.

The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court today set aside a lower court order discharging Advani in the Babri mosque demolition case.

Advani will now have to stand trial with seven other Sangh parivar leaders ' Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Giriraj Kishore, Ashok Singhal, Vinay Katiyar, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya and Sadhvi Ritambhara.

Justice Y.R. Tripathi struck down a 2003 order of a Rae Bareli court and asked Advani to appear before the trial court on July 28.

Like yesterday when news of the terrorist attack came in, the BJP’s first reaction was to go on the offensive. But Advani, who described yesterday’s attack as a strike on “a symbol of our national security”, dismissed calls for holding protests and demonstrations, sources close to him said.

He said it was a “personal matter” which would be fought by his legal aides. At 3 pm, spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said: “Our legal experts are studying the order and once that is done, the necessary steps will be taken.”

The court order said Advani and the others would be charged and tried under “section 149 and sub-section (1) of 505 of IPC read with section 149”. The sections deal with provoking and indulging in rioting and making communally divisive speeches.

To breathe life back into the BJP’s listless cadre, Javadekar added: “We will fight the Ayodhya battle on two fronts: among the people and in the court.”

Sources said Advani did not wish to conflate a personal matter into a political one for fear that the Sangh parivar unity after the terror attack could get weakened, given his bitter relations with the RSS.

There was a feeling in the BJP that the court order could make a “martyr” of the party chief. Advani has never answered the court’s summons in the past, but the sources claimed that this time he might go to make a “political” and “moral” point. They hoped that this would restore his bona fide as the “author” of the Ram temple “movement”.

Advani used the protests the BJP held today as a forum to assert that his heart was with Ram. “The Ramjanmabhoomi issue, which had got buried, has come alive again,” he said. But he was not about to launch another rath yatra. “Our party believes in resolving the issue either in court or through talks.”

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