After the recent controversy over the BJP denying that its leadership had apologised to Muslims for any mistakes committed in the past, RSS ideologue and former chief editor of 'Tarun Bharat' MG Vaidya may have kicked off a fresh storm by saying that Muslims should have willingly relinquished claim in favour of Hindus over the land where the felled Babri masjid once stood.
He also justified the demolition of the disputed structure in 1992, which he claimed represented "an invader's arrogance".
While clarifying that he did not support the 2002 Gujarat riots, Vaidya, a former RSS spokesperson, said they were a "reaction" to the Sabarmati Express being burnt at Godhra. He described allegations of the Sangh being involved in acts of terrorism as a "conspiracy".
Incidentally, the BJP and the RSS had distanced themselves from Vaidya's comments in 2012 suggesting that Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi was responsible for the campaign against then BJP chief Nitin Gadkari. Keen observers of the RSS also point out that Vaidya does not hold any position in the BJP's ideological fountainhead.
"The Babri was not a masjid, it was only a structure. Namaz was not being offered there... pictures of Gods and Goddesses were put up on walls," said Vaidya, a former member of the Maharashtra legislative council, while speaking to dna at his Nagpur residence, adding that idols of Ram Lalla had been found there in 1949 and that 'Shilapujan' for the temple had been approved by the Rajiv Gandhi government.
"Muslims must themselves relinquish claim over it (and say that) a temple once stood there and was demolished to construct a masjid.... The Hindus... will praise them and give them separate land for the Masjid free of cost," said Vaidya, questioning why Mughal emperor Babar had erected the mosque there.
"Good that it was demolished... why express sorrow on the demolition?...The structure symbolised an invader's arrogance," said Vaidya, claiming that excavations had proved that a temple had existed on the site.
"Why did the 2002 riots occur? That was a reaction (to the Sabarmati Express' burning at Godhra)... However, no thought is given to this," said Vaidya, adding that "Narendrabhai's government should not be blamed as they brought the riots under control.
"The only blame, if any, can be that they did not control the riots as soon as they should have," he said, adding that, however, this was not easy when the riots were a "spontaneous reaction".
"I am not supporting the riots.... but putting it in the proper perspective," said Vaidya, adding that "had there been no Godhra, there would have been no Gujarat riots."
He questioned why the Congress was not being held to account for the anti-Sikh riots in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi's assassination in 1984 and pointed out that Modi had been given a clean chit by the court-appointed special investigation team. Hence, a sense of closure to the issue was necessary.
200 seats for BJP
"The political atmosphere favours the BJP," said MG Vaidya, predicting that it would get over 200 seats, in addition to those won by its allies. Vaidya rejected contentions that Modi was an authoritarian leader and questioned that when Modi formed the cabinet, would it possible for just one man's writ to run in it? "Our country is not fit for dictatorship," he said, pointing to Indira Gandhi's authoritarian rule and declaration of the emergency. "Where there is an organisation, dictatorships cannot happen. The BJP has an organisation and this organisation has a chief (Rajnath Singh)," Vaidya said.