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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Is Babri Masjid demolition still an issue?

Almost 17 years have elapsed since Babri Masjid was demolished but the mention of the mosque's demolition, brings back painful memories.

1. Electorally it remains an issue for different political parties as it serves their interests in various ways. When Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav recount the demolition of mosque, they want to embarrass the Congress.

They also want to send the message to Muslims that they are the real secular warriors who had taken on the saffron juggernaut in the late 80s and early 90s.

The 'mischievous' advertisment

2. Even BSP that hardly had any role in the Ayodhya movement, gets affected. The reaction of UP government to advertisement published in Urdu papers by an organisation [apparently on behalf of Samajwadi Party] was startling.

The large size front page advertisement reminded Muslims that BSP [its leader late Kashi Ram] had long back suggested that toilet should be constructed at the disputed site. The advertisement asked, 'Will you vote for a party that has such vision?'.

Stung by the ads the criminal cases were slapped on half-a-dozen Urdu papers of Uttar Pradesh for the 'offensive ads'. Urdu papers do get a few ads in electoral season but might have regreted publishing this particular one, as any cut in govertment ads can prove too costly for them.

3. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that Congress had no role in the destruction of Babri masjid, but he should know that the world knows how much Congress was responsible. Recently, a writer even mentioned PV Narsimharao as the first BJP Prime Minister of India.

4. Now Kalyan Singh, the once fiery mascot of Hindutva, says that he had no role in the demolition. On May 2, Kalyan Singh went a step ahead and said that senior BJP leaders had kept him in the dark and that was the reason he had given affidavit in Supreme Court, vowing to prevent any mishap. He even says that he was a backward leader and thus made a scapegoat

What a classic turnaround! But Kalyan has done it in the past also. When he first left the BJP to form RKP he had made similar charges. Then joined BJP and changed tone again. Now when he is once again in wilderness and has befriended Mulayam Singh, he speaks in another tune.

5. Interestingly, LK Advani who rode the chariot during his rath yatra and polarised the country on communal lines, calls it the saddest day of his life. Possibly, because the moment the sign of 'Islamic aggression' was razed, his movement also had come to an end.

His party's seats were going down in UP and it needed allies across the country. Thus, the BJP had to project a pseudo-moderate Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Anti-Sikh riots occurred in 1984 and are still an issue, so there is no reason why December 6, 1992 should not be an issue.

However, the fact is that the 'demolition' and the riots across the country including in Mumbai, Surat, Bhopal and other cities, are no longer an issue. There is no question of any rebuilding of the mosque.

6. Successive Congress governments in Maharashtra have failed to act on Justice Sri Krishna Commission report that indicted police officials and Shive Sena leaders for riots. In fact, raking up the 'Babri Masjid demolition' has become just a tool to settle scores or attempt to consolidate votes.

Meanwhile, it's Honourable Justice (retired) Liberhan who has the last laugh. The one-man commission has got 48 extensions and has established a record of sorts, spending nearly Rs 10 crore (the money of Indian taxpayer).

And even if the report is ever made public in future, with all surety it will be politicised. The parties blamed in it, are likely to reject it outrightly, while others might hail it. In less than two weeks, all the phases of elections will be over and the process of formation of the next government will set off. Once again everything will be forgotten.