AB Vajpayee and LK Advani head a list of 68 leaders of the Sangh Parivaar and bureaucrats held culpable by the Liberhan Commission for leading the country to the "brink of communal discord" over the Ayodhya issue.
In his nearly 1,000-page report, former Madras High Court chief justice MS Liberhan, who conducted an inquiry into the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya 17 years ago, has also indicted other senior BJP leaders Murli Manohar Joshi and then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh and top brass of VHP like Giriraj Kishore and Ashok Singhal.
The commission has held that Vajpayee, Advani and Joshi, whom it calls "pseudo-moderate" leadership of the BJP, were party to the decisions of the Sangh Parivaar to demolish the 16th century structure in Ayodhya.
In a scathing indictment, the commission said these leaders cannot be given the benefit of the doubt and exonerated of culpability.
"They have violated the trust of the people.....There can be no greater betrayal or crime in a democracy and this commission has no hesitation in condemning there pseudo-moderates for their sins of omission", the report said.
Other prominent political leaders indicted by the commission include Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, former RSS leader K Govindacharya, late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, former BJP leader Uma Bharti and BJP leader Vijayraje Scindia.
Noting that it "cannot be assumed even for a moment that Advani, Vajpayee or Joshi did not know the designs of the Sangh Parivar", the Commission said it was "unable to hold even those pseudo-moderates innocent of any wrong doings."
It said the "pseudo-moderate leadership of BJP was as much a tool in the hands of the RSS as any other organisation or entity and these leaders stood to inherit the political successes engineered by the RSS".
"The BJP was and remains an appendage of the RSS which had the purpose of only providing an acceptable veneer to the less popular decisions and a facade for the brash members of the Sangh Parivar," the report noted. The commission attacked the political leaders for reducing "one of the greatest nations, and one of the oldest civilisations to a state of stark intolerance and barbarianism -- all for petty political gains".
Among the bureaucrats who were named in the report were then Principal Secretary (Home) in UP Prabhat Kumar, then IG (Security) AK Saran and then SSP of Faizabad DB Roy.
Quantifying the culpability, the Commission has divided the leaders, bureaucrats and the organisations into three groups with the first representing those who bear the "primary and the greatest" responsibility for the events of December 6, 1992.
The commission said the second group consists of those who bear physical, ideological and intellectual responsibility while the third one represented those who bear tertiary responsibility for the situation.
"However, the core group of the primary accused, cloaked and shielded by those in the secondary group, and with the inaction and cluelessness of the tertiary group, managed to reduce one of the greatest nations and one of the oldest civilisations to the state of stark intolerance....", it said.
The Commission said between the three classes of actors, lies the entire spectrum of those responsible for the events of Ayodhya. On the one hand, it said, leaders like Vajpayee, Advani and Joshi, who are the "undeniable public face and leaders of the BJP and thus of the Parivar", constantly protested their innocence and denounced the events of December 1992.
On the other hand, "it stands beyond doubt that the events of the day were neither spontaneous nor unplanned nor an unforeseen overflowing of the people's emotion", the Commission said.