The Congress on Monday gave a clean chit to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee [ Images ] and spiritual preacher Deoraha Baba, whose names figure in the list of those found culpable by the Liberhan Commission, for the demolition of the Babri Masjid [ Images ] on December 6, 1992.
"Vajpayee's name was not in the conspiracy (to demolish Babri mosque). His name was only in one of the lists," Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said while intervening in the debate on the Liberhan Commission report in the Lok Sabha.
The minister also regretted that the name of Deoraha Baba, a spiritual leader who was held in high esteem by various Congress leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru [ Images ], Indira Gandhi [ Images ] and Rajiv Gandhi [ Images ], was also mentioned in the same list.
Bharatiya Janata Party [ Images ] leader Ananth Kumar, however, pointed out that the list which has the names of Vajpayee and Deoraha Baba was not 'any list' but the list of culpable persons and "the minister would understand what culpable means."
Culpability does not mean involvement of the concerned person in the act as the matter is still sub-judice, Khurshid said, adding that Deohara Baba's name should not have been mentioned in the report.
"The BJP cannot absolve itself of the conspiracy that led to the demolition of the Babri mosque," the minister said and asked, "if there is no conspiracy, was the party (BJP) not aware of what its organisations were doing."
"We made a mistake, we believed in you", the minister said, referring to the assurances given by the Uttar Pradesh [ Images ] government, headed by the BJP, that it would protect the mosque. Referring to then chief minister Kalyan Singh [ Images ] as BJP's Hanuman [ Images ], Khurshid said the leader had to move out of the party several times and today he was alone in the House, as an independent member.
The Congress does not need to learn lessons of secularism from the BJP, he said, adding, "We have learnt about secularism from Mahatma Gandhi [ Images ]. When he was killed, people around him said Hey Ram, and not Jai Shree Ram".
Khurshid said he would have been happier had the BJP worked towards constructing a temple and mosque adjacent to each other in Ayodhya.
"Please cleanse yourself by having a bath in Ganga, but don't pollute its waters," he told the BJP. The whole effort was aimed at creating ill-will among the people to gain electoral advantage and procure votes, Khurshid said, adding, "It is most regrettable".
The BJP and the Sangh Parivar had been speaking in different tones, he claimed, pointing out that some party members had even praised M A Jinnah, unmindful of the role he played in the partition of the country.