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Ayodhya fallout can weaken terror fight

National unity against terrorism — that was the electorate’s message from Delhi and Rajasthan after 26/11 gored Mumbai and left the rest of India writhing in pain and humiliation.

india Updated: Nov 24, 2009 00:13 IST
Vinod Sharma

National unity against terrorism — that was the electorate’s message from Delhi and Rajasthan after 26/11 gored Mumbai and left the rest of India writhing in pain and humiliation. The Congress victories surprised political pundits, chastened the BJP and saw Muslims stand up with other communities to denounce the Pakistan-trained marauders’ bid to slay the idea that’s India.

Their grief was evident from the black bands they wore during Eid. A year later, the communal entente brought about by the voter seems under threat.

The throwback isn’t as much to Mumbai. It’s to the Babri Masjid demolition of December 6, 1992, Justice Liberhan took 17 years to probe.

Will the potentially divisive debate on his findings reopen old wounds, introducing the shameful past to a generation that wasn’t born when Hindutva zealots brought down the ‘disputed structure’ at what they claimed was Ram Janmabhoomi? The danger seems real: the report castigating the BJP brass being leaked in the countdown to the anniversaries of Mumbai and Ayodhya.

Smarting from the drubbings in the Lok Sabha elections and the bypolls in Uttar Pradesh, the SP and BJP might be tempted to polarise voters. Mulayam Singh has returned to the basics after a public divorce with strange bedfellow Kalyan Singh, the former UP CM who allowed the razing of the mosque the SP chief wants reconstructed.

At the current juncture, the Liberhan report could help divide the opposition gearing up for a joint offensive against the UPA on multi-billion scams in poll-bound Jharkhand and the telecom ministry. But in the long haul, revival of the temple-mosque issue could be a godsend for a whole lot of Ayodhya protagonists: L.K. Advani, Mulayam and BJP prodigals Kalyan and Uma Bharti who are itching to return home after political debacles. “It’s a last-gasp chance for a marginalised Advani.

He’ll certainly try to reclaim the loyal Hindu image to beat back the RSS thrust for his removal,” said a central minister.

The minister felt the post-26/11 “communal balance” so crucial for fighting terrorism couldn’t have been possible without the BJP submitting to popular mind to go slow on its Hindutva agenda. “It worked because the Congress also was cautious in extending relief to Muslims (like not going aggressive on the Sri Krishna Commission report on the Bombay Riots),” he said.

“It’s a delicate balance that can go haywire,” said an MP from UP. The danger was real as it suited the BJP-SP to polarise voters in the state with 80 Lok Sabha seats, he said.

The temptation to repeat the past would be strong for both parties. The temple-mosque standoff ensured the BJP and SP’s
rise through the 1990s.

One extreme view fed on another even in the early years of this decade, the Gujarat riots dealing a major blow to the country’s quest for a political climate to fight terrorism. The long wait ended when people closed ranks in the aftermath of Mumbai.

What now? Expediency demands that the UPA do nothing to make heroes out of the culprits or conspirators of Ayodhya. But that wouldn’t be easy. Mulayam is desperate to win back the minority support he expended in Kalyan’s company.

The SP chief has Mumbai’s Abu Azmi now as his party’s Muslim face in place of Rampur’s Azam Khan. Politics of equanimity doesn’t easily come to either. Stridency is the trait they share with Hindutva rabble-rousers.