Rao's Aides Dismiss All Claims on Ayodhya Demolition

Rao's Aides Dismiss All Claims on Ayodhya Demolition

Dismissing criticism of former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao over the Ayodhya issue, two top officials who worked closely with him today said he tried his best to prevent demolition of Babri mosque and to ensure rule of law.

Recalling the sequence of events on December 6, 1992 when Ayodhya structure was demolished, P V R K Prasad, Media Advisor to the then Prime Minister Rao, said it is "absurd" to say that the Premier was "incommunicado" and termed the remarks in the yet-to-be-released autobiography of late Congress leader Arjun Singh as "ridiculous" and a "cock and bull story".

"Arjun Singh was not present in the morning. Arjun Singh was away about 300–400 miles as he himself has written. Arjun Singh has written that he has contacted the Prime Minister's residence and they said that the Prime Minister is incommunicado. He (Rao) had locked himself and was not available. Arjun Singh knew all senior officers. He never mentioned whom he contacted, the person' name was not given and he just made that statement.

"He also made a statement that by the time he came back, he came there and visited the Prime Minister's residence he was still locked and all that. I thought this is not only absurd, this is ridiculous. There is no end to this cock and bull story," Prasad said.

Rao held meetings with top officials and monitored the situation on the fateful day when the demolition took place, he said.

"That day, when the Babri incident started, I was at home watching TV. When I started seeing some people crossing the barricades and all that, I had a premonition that something might happen. I rushed to the Prime Minister’s house. I was the first person to reach the Prime Minister’s residence that day as an official because the private staff were there.

"To my surprise, I found that the Prime Minister was watching the TV, but already he had got in touch with Madhav Godbole, who was the Home Secretary at that time, and Chavan, who was the Home Minister and I think he was getting in touch with IB Chief," he said.

The other top officials joined in later as the situation at Ayodhya appeared to be getting out of control, he said.

Prasad and P C Rao, who Law Secretary during Rao regime, were speaking at a ‘Meet the Press’ organised by the Andhra Pradesh Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ) here this evening.

Lashing out at Arjun Singh, Prasad said he was "disgruntled politician" as he could not become Prime Minister and had enough reasons to be cut up with Narasimha Rao.

Referring to senior journalist Kuldip Nayyar’s comments in his book Beyond the Lines that Rao was in puja room on the day, Prasad, a retired bureaucrat, said it was far from truth.

"P V Narasimha Rao is not Lord Krishna to be doing puja inside the puja room and still be present in the Cabinet meeting doing all these things along with all these people at the same time," he said, adding, "somebody has to search for what is the motive behind" such allegations.

Maintaining that the main accusation against Narasimha Rao was that he "has not acted" over the Ayodhya issue, Prasad said the only action Rao could have done was to impose President's rule to prevent the demolition of the structure.

"President’s rule could not be imposed before hand as there was no failure of law... And that the state government had given categorical assurance that they would protect the structure and also law and order," he said.

P C Rao gave a list of officers who were present at the meetings. They include the then Home Minister Shankar Rao Chavan, Principal Secretary to the PM A N Verma, Special Officer on Ayodhya issue Naresh Chandra, Cabinet Secretary Rajagopal, Home Secretary Madhav Godbole, IB Director Vaidya and himself.

Echoing Prasad's views, he said the government could not have imposed President's rule in Uttar Pradesh as the Governor's report was against it and it would have been difficult to justify the situation constitutionally.

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