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Babri Masjid case: LK Advani has paid political price, but SC order could be blessing in disguise for BJP

The Supreme Court's directive to complete the trial against BJP leaders accused of conspiracy to demolish the Babri Masjid could mean many things to many people.

For those who believe in the laws of karma, it might signify the deserved denouement of Lal Krishna Advani's career. It can be easily argued that Advani's career was built on Babri Masjid, on the saugandh that a Ram Mandir would be built in its place and nowhere else. If Advani gets indicted for the demolition of the structure in Ayodhya, life would have come full circle for him.

There shouldn't be an iota of doubt that Advani was the architect of the movement that led to the demolition of the disputed mosque. His rath yatras led to mass hysteria for asserting the Hindutva identity during the late 80s and early 90s and mobilised thousands of youth for the sectarian movement.

It is for the courts to decide if Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Kalyan Singh and other BJP leaders accused in the case actually conspired to get the structure razed. But, none of them can escape the moral and political responsibility of their failure to control the monster they unleashed on India and in Ayodhya.

A file photo of LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi. Reuters

A file photo of LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi. Reuters

Advani has always denied that he was aware of plans to forcibly demolish the structure. He has claimed that the sight of lumpen kar sevaks pulling the structure down brick-by-brick brought tears to his eyes. Other versions, however, suggest that the BJP leaders on the spot had planned the demolition and were moved to tears of joy when their conspiracy came to fruition on 6 December, 1992.

In fact, Advani played up the kamandal card ruthlessly throughout the tumultuous period between 1989 and 1992 that saw him wading through a pool of blood for the sake of votes and then holding the Muslims responsible for all the bloodshed. Soon after the mosque was razed, on 30 January, 1993 Advani argued that if Muslims were to identify themselves with the concept of Hindutva there would not be any reason for riots to take place.

In many ways, Advani has already paid the political price for his Babri campaign. Even though he was single-handedly responsible for taking the BJP from two seats in 1984 to 117 in 1991, his ambition of becoming the prime minister.

Later, in a desperate effort to reinvent his persona, Advani even became a fan of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, becoming a caricature of his former self, ejecting himself out of the Hindutva legend. Since then, he has become a peripheral figure in his own party, outsmarted and ousted by the very people whose careers he shaped. Only Advani can tell us how it feels to let others reap the communal harvest he had sowed.

Ironically, for the BJP, the order could be a blessing in disguise. To the party it could mean an opportunity to keep the Hindutva pot boiling and serving the Ram Mandir issue hot in the 2019 elections. A speedy and almost day-to-day trial of the case would ensure that the issue the BJP and its affiliates have held close to their heart since Independence continues to dominate headlines. The trial is bound to get a lot of attention because of the involvement of the BJP's top brass. It could in the end turn out a PR heist for the Hindutva brigade.

In case Advani, Joshi and other alleged conspirators get indicted, the party would do everything to showcase them as martyrs to the Hindutva cause, a strategy that could, like the Ram Mandir movement, become a dominant theme of elections in a country where the majority is already looking to assert itself and has several grievances, both imagined and real, against the minorities.

And, if they are let off by the courts, the BJP could always claim the high moral ground, arguing how its leaders, like Sita, faced an agni pariksha and emerged clean.

Spare a thought for Advani then. Even in the dusk of his life, he could become the rath on which his party could ride to the next electoral victory. Just that, like in the 90s, he might not be the beneficiary of his final yatra, either to jail if he is indicted or to freedom if he is found not guilty.

Wouldn't that be adequate punishment for Advani's karma that led to the bloodshed every time he roared: Saugandh Ram ki khaate hain, mandir wahin banayenge?

Updated Date: Apr 19, 2017 13:23 PM

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