Notwithstanding Congress' reprimand, Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma on Saturday intensified his attack on his friend-turned foe Mulayam Singh Yadav accusing him of conniving with the Bharatiya Janata Party to flare up communal passions and dared the Samajwadi Party leader to a public debate on Babri issue. He alleged that the BJP was trying to vitiate the atmosphere in the state by creating tension on the Ram temple issue, which would benefit the saffron brigade and the SP.
He also questioned why the Samjwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh had not recommended an National Investigation Agency probe into the custodial death of terror suspect Khalid Mujahid, an accused in serial blasts that had rocked Lucknow and Faizabad courts in November 2007, and suggested that right wing Hindu outfits could have been behind the attack.
"Mulayam should come on a platform face to face against me on Babri mosque issue. I will reply to him and he should reply to my questions," Verma told reporters in Lucknow.
The minister said that Mulayam had stated that a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry should be conducted into allegations against him on Babri issue but if the SP is serious, its government in Uttar Pradesh should make a recommendation on the issue to the Centre.
"The CBI or NIA conducts an inquiry only when either the court orders or the state government recommends. The state government should recommend the inquiry and I will make all efforts to get it done," he said. He asked why a CBI inquiry was not ordered into killing of Hindus in Ayodhya.
"The SP and BJP are colluding. After Godhra incident, the SP contested elections in Gujarat. During debate in Parliament, Sushma Swaraj sided with Mulayam," he alleged.
He alleged that the BJP was confident that the issue would flare communal passion in the state, which would benefit the saffron brigade and the SP. "It is part of their strategy," he alleged.
He said that he was "clarifying things" so that tension should not spread among Hindu and Muslims and urged people to vote on merit in Lok Sabha elections. He claimed that going by the happening since 1990, it was clear that the SP and BJP "were acting in connivance".
Verma wondered how the SP could form a government with only 135 MLAs at one time. "How come the then Vidhan Sabha speaker Kesari Nath Tripathi allowed defection? How come the party was allowed to take oath? At that time the BJP was at the centre and SP in the state."
"Why central forces were removed and how come Ashok Singhal reached Ayodhya. There were orders of not to open fire."
Beni also demanded an NIA inquiry into death of Khalid Mujahid.
"When Khalid and Tariq Kasmi were arrested in 2007 in connection with serial blasts, senior SP leader Mohd Azam Khan himself said that it seemed to be fake. I also demanded a judicial inquiry," he said. The minister said that the Nimesh commission report came in August 2012.
"The SP in its election manifesto had said that all innocent youths arrested in the name of terror activities would be released, then why they were not released after the report came," he said.
Verma said that the NIA probes into incidents of terror activities. "Why are they not recommending an NIA probe? It should become clear as to who carried out the blasts. The state government has not done a proper probe.
"There is suspicion that the blasts were carried out by organisations which were behind Malegaon and Shamjahuta train blasts to spread hatered among Hindus and Muslims," he alleged.
"Only the NIA probe can make things clear and if they do not recommend it, it will mean that there is something fishy," he added.
Taking potshots at Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the minister said that on one hand he gives call of making a Congress-free country, on the other he has made an announcement of installing statues of Sardar Patel.
"Sardar Patel was a Congressman all his life. He was the one, who, after Mahatma Gandhi's assassination, banned RSS," he said.
On BJP national general secretary and UP in-charge Amit Shah's visit to Ayodhya, Verma quipped that he went to pray for his acquittal in criminal cases.
Verma's fresh tirade against Mulayam came just days after he claimed to have been "humiliated" by the party's reprimanded and threatened to quit the Congress as well as the government if he was stopped from "fighting" against the SP chief. The rebuke from the party came after the minister had said that the SP chief was not even fit to sweep the prime minister's residence.
Asked whether he has been restrained by the party from speaking, Verma said that he was a free man in a free country. "The Congress is the only party which follows the constitution in letter and spirit and it has complete transparency. The party has given immense respect to me. I have faith in Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and they have faith in me," he said.
Verma was once a close confidant of the Samajwadi Party supremo but was gradually sidelined after Amar Singh came into the picture. The Kurmi leader quit the party in 2007 and joined the Congress before 2009 Lok Sabha elections.