Ayodhya might be peripheral to the BJP’s poll campaign in Uttar Pradesh but the party is taking care to not leave it out altogether so as to keep the dwindling core Hindutva constituency in good humour.
Party patriarch LK Advani, the architect of the 1990 Ram Janmabhumi Rath Yatra that eventually catapulted the party on the national stage, will visit Ayodhya on February 4, the first day of his UP campaign.
It was the demolition of the Babri Masjid that had made the BJP a key player in UP and decimated the Congress, which lost Muslim support for not being able to "prevent" the demolition despite being in power at the Centre.
However, a senior BJP leader from UP said Ayodhya would just remain a subtext and the key campaign issues would be corruption, lack of development and the 4.5 % of the OBCs central quota share being sliced off to minorities.
But, Ayodhya finds further mention too. Party general secretary and former union minister Ananth Kumar also issued a release on Wednesday raking up the Ayodhya issue.
Kumar faulted the Congress manifesto for mentioning the issue in its section on ‘minorities’ and calling it ‘Babri Masjid’ while skipping the word “Ram Janmabhumi”.
“It (Congress) believes that the dispute in Ayodhya is only about the ‘Babri Masjid’. The Congress further believes that there was - and there is - no such thing called the Ram Janmabhumi," Kumar said. "It has also indicated that, according to the Congress's belief, the solution to the Ayodhya dispute lies in the reconstruction of the demolished 'Babri mosque'.”
He said, “It (Congress) believes that the majority Hindu community has no claim over the disputed site in Ayodhya… The Congress's approach is not only blatantly anti-Hindu, it is also anti-judiciary. The Congress has forgotten the verdict of the the Allahabad high court… (that) upheld the Hindu claim… Does the Congress leadership accept or reject the verdict?”