Senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar asserted on Friday that the responsibility for unlocking the gates of the Babri Masjid lies with the Congress party and not former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He claimed that Arun Nehru, whom he referred to as a "BJP-planted" individual, was behind the decision to open the locks. Aiyar expressed his belief that if Rajiv Gandhi had been alive and Prime Minister instead of P V Narasimha Rao, the Babri Masjid would still be standing today. He praised the decision of the Congress leadership to decline the invitation for the January 22 Ram temple consecration ceremony.
Speaking at the launch of his book, "The Rajiv I Knew And Why He Was India’s Most Misunderstood Prime Minister," Aiyar mentioned that Rajiv Gandhi advocated keeping the masjid and building the temple, a sentiment echoed in the later Supreme Court judgment. Aiyar discussed various controversies during Gandhi's premiership, including the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi issue, the Shah Bano case, the India-Sri Lanka Accord, and the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF).
Aiyar explained that the opening of locks on the Babri Masjid gates in 1986 was orchestrated by Arun Nehru, who convinced an unknown figure, Veer Bahadur Singh, to be elected as chief minister. Aiyar claimed that Rajiv Gandhi knew nothing about it, and Nehru later joined the BJP, suggesting his involvement as a "BJP plant."
Regarding the possibility of Rajiv Gandhi handling the Babri Masjid issue differently if he were alive, Aiyar speculated that the matter might have been referred to the Supreme Court under Article 142. He asserted that Rajiv Gandhi would have been proactive and might have declared President's rule to prevent the demolition of the mosque by kar sevaks.
Aiyar clarified that while mistakes were made by the Congress, including opening the locks and negotiating with L K Advani, Rajiv Gandhi was not involved in these decisions. He emphasized that blaming the Congress as a whole is more accurate than singling out Rajiv Gandhi for these actions.
(With Agency Inputs)