NEW DELHI: Amit Shah, the BJP’s president, has reportedly reassured veteran LK Advani that “the party is with you” after the Supreme Court said the 89-year-old will be tried on more serious charges for his alleged role in the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid mosque in Ayodhya.
Sources said Mr Shah phoned Mr Advani last evening after he finalised the BJP strategy for handling yesterday’s ruling which calls for top BJP leaders including union minister Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar to be tried for criminal conspiracy. Among the group is Murli Manohar Joshi, 89, who met with Mr Advani at the latter’s home in Delhi last evening.
So far, the BJP leaders were being tried for making incendiary speeches that instigated the mob that brought done the 16-th century mosque.
Ms Bharti, who is the union Water Resources Minister, had announced that she would travel today to Ayodhya, but was asked to cancel her plans last evening by Mr Shah. Her change in itinerary will be attributed to her campaigning for the BJP in Delhi ahead of crucial local elections next week. But party sources said that after the top court’s ruling, Mr Shah wants leaders to be cautious and “exercise restraint.”
The mosque was torn down by lakhs of karsevaks or volunteers after a movement that was led in part by Mr Advani, calling for a temple to Lord Ram to be built in Ayodhya. Many Hindus believe that the mosque stood over the exact spot of the deity’s birth.
Ms Bharti has denied the charges of conspiracy, and said that she has openly declared that it is her dream to see the temple built.
The charges against the BJP leaders, brought by the CBI, had been blocked by the Allahabad High Court. The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the investigating agency today and transferred the leaders’ trial to a Lucknow court where about 20 people are accused of the actual destruction of the mosque. Judges today ordered daily hearings and said a verdict must be delivered within two years.
The CBI has said that just before the mosque was raised, Mr Advani and others met at Mr Katiyar’s home and decided that it would be brought down.
The demolition triggered massive communal riots across the country.
The BJP’s manifesto says that it remains committed to building the temple in Ayodhya within the framework of the constitution and in accordance with the Supreme Court, which is deciding whether the disputed site belongs to Hindu or Muslim organisations based in Ayodhya.