New Delhi: The Congress admitted on Tuesday that its leader and former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao was not alert enough to prevent the demolition of the Babri mosque.
Participating in the debate in the Lok Sabha on the Liberhan Commission report, party MP Beni Prasad Verma placed the major share of the blame for the demolition of the mosque on the Sangh Parivar and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but also said that Rao, the then prime minister, also made a mistake.
"If somebody goes to commit robbery in a house, he is the sinner. But if the house owner is sleeping, the fault also lies with him," he said.
"You have committed a dacoity," he said, pointing to the BJP members.
Verma, the MP from Gonda, said that if force was used against Sangh Parivar activists assembled near the Babri mosque, they would have run away.
He contended that the demolition of mosque had besmirched the image of India's democracy. "The biggest punishment for the BJP will be its political isolation," he said.
Verma said his native place was close to Ayodhya and he had a better idea of where Lord Ram was born than BJP leader L K Advani who had migrated from Pakistan, drawing protests from the BJP members.
Dismissing the theory that Babri mosque was built after demolishing a temple in the 16th century, he said that it was built by lower caste Hindus who had converted to Islam following their isolation.
He also took a dig at Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh for intermittently befriending former BJP leader Kalyan Singh, who was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh when the Babri mosque was demolished.
Verma's remarks led to two adjournments of the house with BJP members protesting derogatory remarks by him and insisting on an unconditional apology.
The House was initially adjourned till 1700 hrs IST and then another half an hour by Speaker Meira Kumar when it reassembled.
The House, which resumed proceedings at 1700 hrs IST after witnessing disruptions on the issue earlier, could not resume the discussion on the debate with the BJP members insisting that Verma apologise as his remarks also pertained to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav and Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav insisted that Verma apologise as Vajpayee was respected across the political spectrum.
Though Verma said he regretted if some of his words had hurt the feelings of members, the BJP MPs were not satisfied and did not resume their seats despite requests from the Speaker.
The Speaker said the derogatory expression had been removed from the records and the Home Minister had expressed regret, but the BJP members continued to insist on an unconditional apology from Verma.