The Congress is caught in a bind on the Ayodhya issue. From welcoming the Allahabad High Court verdict on the Ayodhya title suit, its stand on the controversial issue saw a slight shift on Tuesday as it urged people to wait for the Supreme Court's decision while underlining that the September 30 judgment did not condone the "shameful and criminal" act of demolition of the Babri mosque on December 6, 1992.
Several Muslim bodies and civil society groups have criticised the ruling, saying it was largely based on faith rather than secular, civil laws and the court had "disregarded" the demolition of the mosque by minimising any mentions of the act.
The shift is seen as an attempt to win back the support of Muslims who are "not happy" with the verdict and comes in the backdrop of statements made by BJP leader L K Advani and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
The party had to pay a heavy price for the polarisation on Mandal and Mandir issues in the 90s and is still trying to recover lost ground in the Hindi heartland. This time again, it is wary of a political polarisation by the BJP-RSS-VHP and by the SP, Lalu Yadav's RJD or Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP.
"Congress is playing politics," said representative of Ramlalla Virajman, Triloki Nath Pandey.
Mohammed Hashim Ansari — the oldest living litigant — said he would not make any statement until Wednesday while the Nirmohi Akhara — the other beneficiary — said Congress' statement is pointless since the parties involved are already working toward finding a negotiated solution.