Shadab Alam was too young — barely five — when the Babri Masjid demolition changed the country’s politics. Now a research scholar in physics at Faizabad’s RML University, Alam, 24, identifies more with Emraan Hashmi’s films than temple-mosque politics, which he says is “meaningless”.
Alam has an unconventional take on Emraan’s films. “He is known as a serial kisser and his films are branded masala fare. But, they also convey that after one has touched material heights, one wants to connect with the Almighty. The message is to stay grounded,” he says.
If these comments from a Muslim youth appear unusual on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Babri demolition, here’s the perspective. Earlier in March, Ayodhya dumped Lallu Singh, its 58-year-old BJP MLA of 22 years, in favour of 32-year-old Pawan Pandey of the Samajwadi Party (SP).
Straight out of university politics, Pandey focused his campaign on badlav (change). “Initially, not many believed that he would be able to make an impact,” Mohammad Sohail, the young Faizabad district chief of SP’s minority wing, says adding, “But, he became a game changer with his appeal to make a difference.”
Pandey has been able to get chief minister Akhilesh Yadav to announce a series of sops for Ayodhya — R10 crore for Faizabad roads, a proposal to develop its tourist potential and beautification of Faizabad and Ayodhya.
Even in religious families, the change is apparent. Shubham Shroti, says his generation wants to say “hi” to career and “bye” to the temple-mosque politics.
Son of Dinesh Shroti, the priest of Kanak Bhawan temple in Ayodhya, he says: “belief in God should be our strength, not weakness”.
There are, however, a few dissenting voices — like those of Abhishek Pandey, a Class 11 student and maths topper of Maharaja Inter College, who believes “temple (is) more than job”.
In Lucknow too, the mood is the same. BTech passout Divyanshu Asthana stresses on closure and setting growth, career and development as priorities.
Bhaskar Mishra, an aspiring civil servant was born when the incident took place. ““I was a staunch Hindu until I realised that there were much bigger issues. We should channel our energies into these issues,” he says.
The young in that way are making their preference clear, both politically and otherwise, not planning a future by the past.