Veteran BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani is considered to be one of the front-runners to succeed Pranab Mukherjee as the next President of India. Some media reports had earlier claimed that Prime Miniter Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah proposed the name of Advani for India’s top post during a party meet at Somnath on March 8.
However, the revival of the Babri-Masjid demolition case threatens to dent Advani’s chances. On Wednesday, Supreme Court of India had scheduled to examine whether the conspiracy charges in the Babri Masjid demolition incident against BJP leaders like Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and others should be revived or not. These leaders were at the forefront of Ram Janmbhumi movement in the late 1980s and the early 1990s that made BJP a formidable political force in Indian polity.
The case dates back to December 6, 1992 when kar sevaks of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) demolished Babri Masjid, a centuries-old Islamic structure in Ayodhya. The incident triggered communal riots across the country, claiming lives of over 3000 people.
The site of the mosque was disputed as many Hindus believed, and continue to believe now, that it is the birthplace of Lord Ram.
Advani along with others was booked by the CBI for allegedly hatching a criminal conspiracy to demolish the mosque, leading to riots. However, they were later discharged by the Allahabad High Court.
The criminal cases in the Babri demolition incident were first registered under two crime files. While one file (197) had FIR against lakhs of kar sevaks who were involved in the actual demolition of the mosque. The case pertaining to the first file was heard by a court in Lucknow, which dropped conspiracy charges against 13 leaders including Advani and Joshi.
The second FIR (file 198) in the case was registered against 12 people including names like late Ashok Singhal, Advani, Joshi, Vinay Katiyar and Uma Bharti. These leaders were reportedly present at the site when the mosque was being demolished. This case is still pending in a court in Rae Bareli. The CBI had filed combined chargesheet in the case.
In the Supreme court, the CBI has challenged the trial court’s decision that dropped conspiracy charges against Advani and others. On Wednesday, the matter was adjourned as one of the judges of a division bench was absent.
Justice PC Ghose and Justice Rohinton Nariman will now examine the CBI plea on Thursday. Earlier on March 6, Justice Nariman had talked about starting a debate on reopening the criminal conspiracy charge against the BJP leader.
If the case reopens, Advani’s chance of becoming the President will be almost over and the government would not be able to justify Advani’s candidature for the post, as he would be facing criminal cases.
Advani had earlier failed to become the Prime Minister of India in 2009 General Elections.