The alleged match-fixing between the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the BJP over Ayodhya has worried the Congress which apprehends that polarisation of communities will harm it in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
A section in the Congress is of the opinion that this polarisation is expected to benefit both the SP and the BJP.
Citing the rise of BJP's electoral fortunes in Uttar Pradesh in the wake of Ram temple movement in 1991, 1996 and 1998 Lok Sabha elections, Congress leaders maintain that the saffron party is trying to revive the religious issue for political gains in the politically important state that sends 80 members to the lower house.
The BJP had won 47 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh in 1991, 50 in 1996 and the highest of 57 in 1998 but failed to maintain the tempo in 1999 when it suffered a setback and managed to win just 29 seats. The downslide continued in 2004 when it won just 10 seats and barely managed to retain those in 2009.
"BJP has no other issue. The party has realised that it will be able to stem the rout in UP only by playing on religious sentiments," a Congress leader said.
Similarly, the Congress leaders claim that the SP by its "so-called clampdown" on VHP leaders is trying to appease the Muslims who form a substantial vote block in the state.
In the past, Mulayam Singh Yadav's party had reaped rich electoral dividends due to this polarization. This time, the SP also sought to send a message to Hindu voters that its top leadership tried its best to persuade the VHP leaders to abandon their yatra plan so that peace is not disturbed in the state.
However, another section in the Congress is of the view that the BSP could eventually end up as the biggest beneficiary of this entire "shadow boxing drama" between the SP and the BJP.
The Congress had made considerable gains in 2009 in UP - it won 21 seats -- as a large chunk of Muslim population was disenchanted with the SP due to the Kalyan Singh factor and also because some disillusioned traditional BJP voters had shifted their loyalty.