NCP Leader Pawar Says Former PM Narasimha Rao Ignored His Advice On Babri, Chose To Trust BJP Instead

Abhay Rathore

Aug 09, 2023, 04:42 PM | Updated 04:52 PM IST

NCP supremo Sharad Pawar.
NCP supremo Sharad Pawar.

Days before the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, then prime minister P V Narasimha Rao disregarded the advice of his ministers not to rely on the BJP's assurance that the mosque would be safe, according to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar.

Speaking at a panel discussion in Delhi, Pawar revealed that a group of ministers had suggested that the prime minister convene a meeting with senior leaders from all parties.

During this meeting, Vijaya Raje Scindia assured that adequate precautions would be taken to protect the Babri Masjid and advised against extreme measures. However, Narasimha Rao chose to listen to the BJP leaders, leading to the unfortunate demolition.

Pawar's revelation took place during the launch of The Indian Express's contributing editor Neerja Chowdhury's book, 'How Prime Ministers Decide,' which delves into the decision-making processes of six Indian prime ministers.

The panel discussion, moderated by Rajdeep Sardesai, included Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor and Prithviraj Chavan, as well as the BJP's Dinesh Trivedi. The event was graced by the presence of Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan as the chief guest, as reported by The Indian Express.

Despite the warnings from then home minister Shankarrao Chavan, home secretary Madhav Godbole, and himself, Pawar stated that Narasimha Rao accepted Scindia's suggestion and chose to rely on the BJP leadership.

The consequences of this decision are well-known to have ended with the Babri Masjid ultimately demolished.

Pawar named Rao as the most effective prime minister, praising his decision-making skills and his ability to protect the interests of the country despite opposition from certain sections.

Chowdhury stated that there was no evidence of Rao colluding with the BJP to bring down the Babri Masjid. However, she suggested that Rao allowed the masjid to be demolished, possibly believing that it would remove a longstanding issue and weaken the BJP's influence.

Chavan attributed the fall of the UPA-II government during Manmohan Singh's tenure as prime minister to corruption scandals.

He acknowledged that many of the scandals turned out to be baseless, but the perception of a corrupt government was created, exacerbated by the Anna Hazare movement.

Trivedi, who served as the Railways Minister during Manmohan Singh's second term, expressed the belief that Singh had lost interest towards the end of his tenure. He suggested that Singh felt out of control when Rahul Gandhi publicly criticised an ordinance, leading to a sense of powerlessness.

Trivedi recounted an emotional moment when he resigned from his position as the Railway Minister due to opposition from Mamata Banerjee.

Singh had tears in his eyes as Trivedi presented his resignation, expressing his reluctance to let him go. Trivedi offered to stay if Singh, as the captain, refused to accept the resignation, but Singh believed that the government would collapse.

Tharoor defended Singh against the perception of him being a weak prime minister, stating that his weakness in coalition matters was a result of having no other choice.

He compared Singh's situation to that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has not had to deal with a coalition government. Tharoor suggested that if circumstances change after 2024, opinions about Prime Minister Modi's strength as a leader may differ.

Tharoor discussed the negotiations surrounding the Indo-US nuclear deal and the differing opinions on how India should vote on condemning Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency.

He mentioned that the Left wanted India to vote with Iran, while the then prime minister Manmohan Singh, possibly under pressure from Washington, wanted to vote against Iran.

Sonia Gandhi and her advisers preferred India to abstain. Ultimately, the prime minister's views prevailed, highlighting the clear distinction between Gandhi's role in politics and Singh's responsibility in running the government.

The book under discussion does not cover Narendra Modi's tenure. When asked about it, Chowdhury explained that she had considered writing about demonetisation but ultimately decided against it.

She realised that she would not be able to obtain accurate information about the decision-making process.

Trivedi, currently a Rajya Sabha MP from the BJP, expressed his admiration for the PM Modi's unwavering dedication to the country.

Although, Trivedi added, he hasn't had the opportunity to work closely with Prime Minister Modi, he considers him a strong leader who works tirelessly for the nation.

Trivedi also mentioned his personal preference for Atal Bihari Vajpayee, praising his poetic nature, love for food, and genuine personality. According to Trivedi, Vajpayee was transparent and authentic, and what everybody saw was what they got.

Abhay Rathore is Staff Writer at Swarajya.

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