It was late in the night when Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani walked into the residence of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh on December 6, 1992.
Peeved at the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya by Ram Temple activists on that day, Advani is understood to have told Singh, “Along with the shrine, we have lost the potent political issue forever.”
Today, when the BJP is going through a turbulent phase, the issue has come back with a bang in the form of the Liberhan Commission report on the mosque demolition, a week after the Samajwadi Party had demanded the reconstruction of the structure at the site.
However, the report has disturbed not just the BJP, which it has held responsible for the demolition, but also the Samajwadi Party (SP). The SP’s social base once included UP’s Muslims, who drifted away from the Congress because the grand old party was suspected to have complicity in the demolition.
However, this suspicion does not find support in the report. Rather, it says that Kalyan Singh refused to deploy paramilitary forces till the mosque was razed to the ground.
The report says that the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao had no option but to appeal to the UP government and that he could not have imposed President’s Rule without the governor’s advice.
SP President Mulayam Singh Yadav said in the Lok Sabha on Monday: “The central government must explain how the selective leaks happened and why the full report is not being tabled.”
Now that the Congress is in the ascendant in the state at the expense of the SP, the report has political implications: it may further erode the SP’s Muslim support, which has already worn thin because of the party’s recent association with Kalyan Singh.
The Muslims form 18 per cent of the state’s population, and have largely voted for the SP in the last two decades until recently.
“Yadav is the biggest loser (in this),” academic and political commentator Badri Narayan told HT. “This will lead to Muslim mobilisation in favour of the Congress.”