A day ahead of Rajiv Gandhi’s birth anniversary, a new book claimed that the late PPM was unaware of the unlocking of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi in February 1986.
Written by Rajiv Gandhi’s close friend Wajahat Habibullah, it claims that Rajiv believed the government had no right to ‘interfere in matters like the determination of the functioning of places of worship.
Wajahat Habibullah was an official part of the J&K cadre who was part of Rajiv Gandhi’s PMO. He writes in the book titled My Years With Rajiv Gandhi Triumph and Tragedy that Rajiv Gandhi claimed he wasn’t involved in the decision leading up to its unlocking.
He is reported to have said: “No Government has any business to interfere in matters like the determination of the functioning of places of worship. I knew nothing of this development until I was told of it after the orders had been passed and executed.”
Habibullah, who incidentally is a Doon Old Boy, said he asked Rajiv Gandhi about the unlocking.
Rajiv reportedly replied: “Yet I had not been informed of this action, and have asked Vir Bahadur Singh (then chief minister of UP, under whose watch, and as rumoured, under whose instructions the magistrate had taken this fateful, or shall I call it fatal decision) to explain. I suspect it was Arun (Nehru) and Fotedar (Makhan Lal) who were responsible, but I am having this verified. If that is true I will have to consider action.”
Habibullah says the conversation took place in September 1986. A local court in Faizabad, on February 1, 1986, had vacated a stay order passed in 1948 to maintain status quo at the site.
The new revelations raise many questions including why it took 30 years to surface. The Congress had also gone to town during the Ayodhya Bhoomi Pujan taking credit for the event.
Former Madhya Pradesh CM Digvijaya had said former Rajiv Gandhi had wanted the Ram Temple to come up.
“The centre of our faith is Lord Ram! And today, the country is being run with trust in Lord Ram. That’s why we all wish that a grand temple should be built at the birthplace of Ram in Ayodhya. (late PM) Rajiv Gandhiji also wanted the same,” he tweeted.
.@rasheedkidwai With all respect, I’ll take #WajahatHabibullah with a truck-load of salt. He is as much of a family insider as one can be. Has himself written how #RajivGandhi got him plum posting. Does the book say anything about #RajivGandhiFoundation where he was on the Board? https://t.co/TOjCF1RnvE
— GhoseSpot (@SandipGhose) August 19, 2020
ah yes, and narendra modi was not aware of the gulburg society massacre https://t.co/J8wuHXtbmz
— Hartosh Singh Bal (@HartoshSinghBal) August 19, 2020
So the whole Congress party was busy taking credit of something which didn't happen ! https://t.co/UOhqYn37qF
— Rahul Kaushik (@kaushkrahul) August 19, 2020
Amid accusations of minority appeasement after the Shah Bano case, Rajiv Gandhi is often charged with laying the foundation of temple politics. Looking to counter BJP’s accusations of ‘pseudo-secularism’, Rajiv Gandhi’s actions lay the foundation for the temple politics that would wreak havoc and lay waste in the country, killing thousands.
While former President Pranab Mukherjee called it an error of judgement, Madhav Godbole, Union Home Secretary accused Rajiv Gandhi of trying to use the Hindutva plank to get some voters.
He wrote in his book The Babri Masjid-Ram Mandir Dilemma: An Acid Test for India’s Constitution: