'Narasimha Rao prayed when Babri was demolished' alleges new book

Published: July 5, 2012
India's late former prime minister Narsimha Rao. PHOTO: AFP

India's late former prime minister Narsimha Rao. PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI: Yet another book has levelled an allegation against P V Narasimha Rao that he had connived at the demolition of Babri Masjid claiming that the late Prime Minister had sat in a ‘puja’ (prayers) when the ‘kar sevaks’ began pulling it down and rose only when it was over.

The charge relating to the demolition on December 6, 1992 has been made by eminent journalist Kuldip Nayar in his soon-to-be released autobiography “Beyond the Lines” being published by Roli Books.

“My information was that Rao had connived at the demolition. He sat at ‘puja’ when the ‘kar sevaks’ (volunteers) began pulling down the mosque and rose only when the last stone had been removed,” adding that, “Madhu Limaye (late socialist leader) later told me that during the ‘puja’, Rao’s aide whispered in his ears that the masjid had been demolished. Within seconds, the ‘puja’ was over”, he said in a chapter on “Narasimha Rao’s Government” in the book.

P V Ranga Rao, son of the late Prime Minister, however strongly dismissed the claim as “unbelievable and untenable”.

“It is unbelievable and untenable…There is no way my father would have done so. He was in anguish when the Babri structure was demolished, for he loved Muslims for years and was their ardent supporter. He told us many times that it should not have happened,”

Regretting that an eminent journalist like Nayar could write such tings, Ranga Rao said “vested interests” were trying to spew venom against his father, who is no more to defend himself.

Nayar said that when there were riots in the wake of the demolition, Rao invited some senior journalists to his house.

“He was at pains to explain to us how his government had made every arrangement to stop the demolition. Rao said he was betrayed by the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh”.

When asked how a small temple could have been erected overnight at the site when the Centre was at the helm of affairs having dismissed the Kalyan Singh government, Rao said he had attempted to send a contingent of CRPF by plane to Lucknow but they were unable to land because of bad weather.

Besides, Nayar said Rao did not explain the “inaction” of Central forces in Ayodhya, but assured him that the temple would not be there “for long”.

“Rao’s government will always be held responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid. The curious thing was that he was conscious of such an eventuality but did virtually nothing to avert it,” Nayar said.

The late former prime minister had once invited senior journalists to brief them with the efforts his government was making to reach a settlement. According to Nayar, when he asked him which stage they had reached, Rao replied “somewhere,” but “there was no serious edge to his voice”.

Nayar recalled that soon after, he witnessed the gathering of the storm with thousands of ‘kar sevaks’ descending upon Ayodhya and the RSS and the BJP leaders converging on the city.

Kalyan Singh, who was heading the BJP government in U P, made statements which indicated that he had no intention of protecting the Masjid, although the Supreme Court had ordered maintenance of status quo and his government had given an undertaking that it would do so.

The climax came when the Masjid was demolished to the last stone on that fateful day by thousands of ‘kar sevaks’, egged on by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leadership.

“It was daylight murder of secularism,” Nayar writes.

He also says that the Congress cauldron was boiling, not because of the Masjid demolition, but because of internal conflicts. Sonia Gandhi never liked Narasimha Rao, particularly when he assumed leadership of both the Congress party and its government, Nayar says.

He adds that Sonia did not want to join issue with him, preferring to remain aloof from party matters. Even so, the infighting with the Congress and its shrinking space in the country bothered her. Many Congress leaders from the Centre and the states met her individually to appeal to her to lead the party. To them, she seemed the only person who represented the consensus in the party.

According to Nayar, her gravest concern was that communal forces representing the BJP were claiming the political space, “The only occasion I spoke to her, she came across as a committed secularist, who firmly believed that pluralism was the bedrock of Indian society”.

Nayar says he could gauge that she graduallyrealised that she would have to join politics if she wanted to fight against communalism and that the only instrument she had for this was the Congress.

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Reader Comments (28)

  • danish
    Jul 5, 2012 - 8:29PM

    Even though i was only 12 at the time, i remember how Pakistan Military moved in Karachi city to safegaurd and protect Mandirs in Karachi. The angry mob did charged on 1 mandir at TeenHatti, but very little damage was done, since military deployment was rapid.

    It is an irony and travesty of justice that how records are potrayed in comparison to india/pakistan contest.
    Indian state indeed involved in insurgency on East Pakistan (now bangladesh) and in recent times we can find their foot prints in Fata and baluchistan.
    Pakistan State on the other hand involved in Kashmir, which is not Territorial indian space, it is disputed.
    The mumbai carnage was not from Pakistan State, but from non-state actors. These non-state actors breed and thrive on Indian mis-carriages of justice in Kashmir.

    The whole episode of Babri Masjid is as same as many other mis-carraiges of Just by the proclaimed largest democracy of the world.


  • no one
    Jul 5, 2012 - 8:30PM

    Not a word against this man , Mr Nayar …This man liberalized Indian economy and for him we are here now ….Mr.Nayar..why didn’t you reveal this thing during his life time , Why after his death ? Recommend

  • mr. righty rightist
    Jul 5, 2012 - 8:53PM


    You can only fool your likeminded with your lies.

    Read Lajja by Tasleema Nasreen (mostly banned in Pakistan because it speaks the truth) and you will get all the rebuttals.

    I will not waste my time on proving something that has overwhelming evidence in this book.


  • Mirza
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:04PM

    To me it only shows that people are rating a leader on his/her secular policies and not fundamentalism. Even if this story is true that means there is a competition even in the Congress party that who is more secular and not being secular is a stigma not an honor.


  • Atif
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:04PM

    mr. righty rightist: Leave it for people of Pakistan to decide what is truth and what is not. His observations are very valid and speak for themselves. Gofind some liberal, enlightened and moderated Pakistanis, they’ll help you with your cause.


  • anand
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:10PM

    one wrong news about india proved or unproved and an opportunity for you people to justify all your acts. pakistan didn’t do anything it is all india did and bringing kashmir,claiming innocence in terrorist activity, seeing fault in indian secularism without thinking even a second that even your constitution don’t allow equal rights to all religion.


  • Sinclair
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:13PM

    Its probably closer to the truth. The responsibility for Babri Masjid is foisted on RSS/BJP though, not Congress. However, things are not as black and white as Sonia is the secular one, and Rao the communal. Its just another coverup in the long list of Congress coverups (refer Bofors, Anti Sikh riots, Emergency).
    @no one

    Wow, are you in the business of issuing Internet fatwas? The economic liberalization had more to do with us hitting a wall and having nowhere else to go. The economic ideological shift cannot be attributed to a single leader or government, because later governments could have rolled them back. It is a change in thinking among the entire political class – from Mai-Baap sarkar to Controlled-liberalization. Now it has to become full fledged liberalization.


  • BlackJack
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:14PM

    You have got to be joking. Over 160 temples were destroyed in Pakistan in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition. Further, after 1992, no such incident has happened, whereas in Pakistan, it is a continuous process.

    I don’t think the Babri Masjid demolition was necessary, but you people need to stop fooling yourselves that you can compare India with Pakistan. Your favorite bugbear Narendra Modi has himself ordered the demolition of 200 temples that were illegally constructed in Gujarat. Note temples – not mosques.


  • danish ali ahmad
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:14PM

    I put my full name, since i do not want to fool anybody as comparison to your heavenly bent allegation with the use of screen name “righty rightist”
    As far as folling goes: here you went haywire with Tasleema Nasreen case.
    First, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lajja
    and contrasting with your claim it is Banned in writers her own country Bnagladesh. and infact in some part baned in INDIA.
    “The book was first published in 1993 in the Bengali language, and was subsequently banned in Bangladesh,[1][2] and a few states of India.”

    Second: Indeed i have read her book, and since i am from Pakistan, where (unfortunately) we challenge every bit of information released by Govt Of Pakistan. But not as indian, where general populace is busy with Bollywood star gossips and always take thier Govt Narrative of events as Facts.

    she in her book, rightly said and described, on pages from 41 through 49, the tales of crackdown by Pakistan Millitary on local Bengalis populations. (very horrific tales indeed).

    BUT guess why it is banned in Bangladesh and India? Beacause she rightly argued the support of indian millitary to train mukhti bahini insurgents. And the Agreement breach between the Indian army and mukhti bahini that Calcultta is an integeral part of Bangla.

    NO wonder why you have became so slugish, since you ran out of arguments.
    and i leave it on to the public to decide, whether you tried to fool them or myself.

    Until you start behaving a normal and sensible object, you are free to rant anywhere for anything. but fact remains fact.


  • Siddiqui
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:19PM

    @mr. righty rightist:
    How about “Dead Reckoning” by Sharmila Bosa?


  • danish ali ahmad
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:28PM

    where and when in all of my writing above i claimed that no temple in Pakistan was ever demolished? please point that out.
    I only shared my memory of that time in a specific CITY where i was.

    Please also point out the event when i compared india and pakistan.
    Good forbids, if we ever come to such a low point where i have to compare Pakistan with India!
    Many Mosques were razen out in Pakistan also. But it can happen in India only that a person like Narender Modi can get elect again, and would never be punished!!!!!


  • zalim Singh
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:36PM

    What’s wrong here?


  • antanu g
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:36PM

    @danish ali ahmad:
    Right on spot bro. Truth is the secularism has been hurt more by so called champions of secularism than extremism. PVNR,s role i Mosque demolition is an open secret.


  • mr. righty rightist
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:38PM


    “How about “Dead Reckoning” by Sharmila Bosa?”

    Have you ever read that book, dear? That book is about 1971 and not about babri Masjid demolition.

    What Tasleema Nazreen has written is about the reactions in Pakistan and bangladesh to Babri Masjid demolition in India.

    @danish ali ahmad

    Oh dear dear, what are you talking about? The book Lajja is not about 1971. The book is about the reactions of Pakistan and Bangladesh to the demolition of Babri Masjid. Unlike you, I don’t need wikipedia. I have a book right in my hands, reading for a second time.

    Since you have decided to lie so much, here’s how page 41 starts : Office on North Brook hall road, the idol of kali in the Zamindar’s house as well……..Page 49 ends with : Not only beaten up, but set alight as well. When Rajendra das…

    It’s all about the killings of Hindus, rapes of Hindu women and demolition of temples in Pakistan and Bangladesh.


  • Afghan Karachiite
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:42PM

    India is a state of extremists Hindus and will never be secular as they often claim to be.


  • mr. righty rightist
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:45PM

    @Atif who writes “mr. righty rightist: Leave it for people of Pakistan to decide what is truth and what is not.”

    Well, you seem like a sensible person. So, here’s the logic. Would you reply on 170 million people who have brought their country to its knees and to the state of being failed?

    Mmmmm. I am not so sure. If Pakistanis were so sensible, it would be progressing on more than one front of extremism.


  • unbeliever(manish kumar, lucknow)
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:50PM

    @danish ali ahmad:

    OK, i am also with my real name, and location, if you want i will give you street number…i frankly do not know what do you mean by this futile exercise..

    babri masjid demolition should be taken as an answer to the expulsion and genocide of hindus from kashmir.

    Regarding mr. nayyar: two questions stand out:
    1) why was he mum all these years when both rao and limye were alive..

    2) he relies on madhu limye(a communist) for all his evidence.
    MR. LIMYE himself is no saint, and was responsible for the fall of first non-congress government at the centre, when he played to the tunes of mrs. indira gandhi….Recommend

  • danish ali ahmad
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:53PM

    @mr. righty rightist
    if i were an idian, my response to you would be: You have the wrong book, or the book version you have is been twisted since its published in Pakistan.

    but since I am a Pakistani, i encourage you to name temples from her book that were demolished in “KARACHI” as a reaction to babri masjid.

    Since my post specifically to the memory i had, and you tried to drift the argument to the other side.
    Please do not name any temple that were demoslied in Bangladesh, because Bangladesh was independent country by the time babri masjid event occured.

    The whole article is about from a man called “Nayar” and you know best who nayar was!
    point: i know indian politics a bit.


  • sridhar
    Jul 5, 2012 - 10:06PM

    Mr.Rao might have prayed to save the Babri Masjid when all steps failed? He might have prayed as his regular daily prayer which is very personal and his constituitional right to pray as and when he wants. The author is assuming and writing which is wrong. If this has to be questioned, the author must question all the moghul invasions into India and ask why they invaded and destroyed many temples. Let us be rationalistic as reader when authors are not.


  • danish ali ahmad
    Jul 5, 2012 - 10:08PM

    @manish kumar.
    The futile exercise that i did is infact drained in vains. you must be joking………….
    Bbari masjid was dispute way back the Partition occured, and infact it was RSS/BJP like minded who instigated it in 1958 first, after independence, way before so called Kashmir pundits eviction occured in 1988.

    Truth of the matter is, Kashmir was always Muslim majority. And if any pundits got evicted from kashmir, they did so on their own will. And i can imagine how hard it can be to live with people when general public hate them on the basis of sponsors of Occupied army.
    IT is in itself a FALLACY that 1800 pundits left Kashmir, where 700,000 indian army was deployed tp safegaurd them.
    Babri Masjid demolition WAS and is still the Evil design
    it litteraly perplexed the true face of india.
    as far as Nayar concern are. he did pointed this out openly in 1998 and in 1999. But was shut by Atal Bihari and company.
    Agreed on limye.. but his narrative was corroborated by shekhar gupta interview.Recommend

  • mr. righty rightist
    Jul 5, 2012 - 10:13PM

    @danish Ali Ahmed

    What happened to your argument that I have not read the book. Oh let me guess, I have the wrong version!!
    So, now from Pakistan, you have come to Karachi. So you want to claim that Karachi is a better place from the entire Pakistan when it comes to religious tolerance. My god! Read your first comment and try to understand what you have claimed.

    And please be reasonable. I cannot look up a book of 216 pages to find out which temples she has named as being destroyed in Karachi. I cannot do Ctrl+F on a book.

    Besides, if you had read that book, you will know that she mentions thousands of atrocities committed against Hindus, both in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Not hundreds. Which also makes it difficult to look up one particular city.Recommend

  • Butt
    Jul 5, 2012 - 10:46PM

    @Atif: ‘Leave it for people of Pakistan to decide what is truth and what is not.’ Sorry to inform you that this was jetisioned on 5 July, 1977.


  • Atif
    Jul 5, 2012 - 10:53PM

    mr. righty rightist: Oh well, seems Indians are more worried of our future than we ourselves are. Huh, Good and bad times come and if we are going through the rough patch, we will overcome it. You need not worry about us. Meanwhile there are few things you need to sort out back home. Try Mr. Narindia Modhi for crimes against humanity. Stop fooling around with that so called secular status, setting on fire golden temple, demolishing Babri Mosque, frying an Australian priest in a church prove otherwise. Feel some shame and abide by what your government (Nehru Sahib) had committed to the International community on Kashmir. Do it and then lecture others.


  • G. Din
    Jul 5, 2012 - 11:13PM

    Whenever Kuldip Nayyar talks about “secularism”, take those comments as being about “pseudo-secularism”. Congress party, starting with Nehru, has beaten up on this term so badly that it is recognizable only as being anti-Hindu, plain and simple. It is to frighten Muslims into constituting a vote bank for this party. But, even Muslims are getting wise to them now after seeing how Nayyar and his ilk have exploited them all these years.
    As far as Narsimha Rao is concerned, it is he and he alone who should get the credit for India’s shift from Nehru’s “Socialistic Pattern of Society” which bankrupted India and left Indians starving and begging America to feed them under PL480. ManMohan Singh was only a foot soldier, a babu, a technocrat who was given directions and asked to run with the ball, being the Finance Minister in the Rao government. It is he (Narsimha Rao) who put his neck on the block by reversing pet themes of the Grand Patriarch of Congress Party, Nehru. It is only to be expected that Sonia Ghandy would not like him as she is the only illegitimate beneficiary of that clan! Yesterday’s news: she has declined to open the books of Rajiv Ghandy Foundation. Guess why?


  • Ali zafar rao
    Jul 6, 2012 - 1:43AM

    I see alot of indians worried about Pakistan and its future. Brothers Pakistan aint going anywhere we have seen worse than this. We are here to stay
    Tough times give birth to tough nations and tough nations rule the world .. These 180 million insane people will blindly die for their faith and their lands..
    Right now we are busy handling a super power please wait for your turn.India must Respect our existance and our ppl if it wants to stay in peace


  • mr. righty rightist
    Jul 6, 2012 - 8:29AM

    @Ali Zafar Rao who writes “I see alot of indians worried about Pakistan and its future. Brothers Pakistan aint going anywhere we have seen worse than this.”

    The surname Rao is a Hindu surname, your forefathers were forced to convert to Islam at some point.

    Anyway, are you sure you have seen worse than this?


  • Varun
    Jul 6, 2012 - 9:41AM

    Unfortunately this propaganda is going on man who is not alive to defend himself,Mr.Narsimha Rao did right thing as prime minster and steered the nation to dignified position in the world , unfortunately nobody talks about,who opened the closed mosque its none other than Mr.Rajiv Gandhi,he set the fire.The demolition of Babri is a suicidal for BJP,they lost the plot there,its real beginning of fall of rightist politics in India,even after Vajapai came to power BJP can not stimulate religious sentiments after post-Gujarat right,BJP lost credibility,now its in leadership crisis,now surviving as NDA.not BJP.


  • G. Din
    Jul 6, 2012 - 11:59PM

    “The demolition of Babri is a suicidal for BJP,”
    If that had been so, how come BJP formed the government in the next election after it had just two seats in the previous Parliament? Had Advani’s Rath Yatra culminating in Babri demolition something to do with it? Please think before making wild statements just to please your audience. Satyameva Jayate, you have heard about that, I presume! Stick to facts!
    But then, what was it that spelled the decline of BJP? Exactly contrary to what you have surmised. BJP committed a breach of trust with those who had catapulted it to power. It backed off from erecting the Ram Temple at that place. They realized that – too late, I think!
    Narendra Modi did not and even though he is a BJP leader, he is being sent again and again into the corridors of power!


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