Winds of change have swept the youth of Ayodhya 20 years after the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992.
Young Muslims and Hindus who have grown into adulthood after the demolition have moved on to focus on more urgent issues – jobs, careers and development. Take Shadab Alam, 24, who was barely 5 when the incident took place not far from his home.
This research scholar in Physics at Faizabad’s RML University finds it easier to tune in to Emraan Hashmi films than to temple-mosque politics, which he finds “meaningless”.
Alam said, “Hashmi’s films are branded masala films. But they also convey that at the end of it all, after one has touched material heights, one wants to connect with the almighty. The takeaway from these films is simple – stay grounded.”B Tech graduate Divyanshu Asthana goes a step further: "For us, religion is not an issue. It is growth, career and development that are our priorities." Bhaskar Mishra, an aspiring civil servant said, "I was just born at the time of the demolition and heard a lot about it. I too was a staunch Hindu until I realised there were much bigger issues to think about."
It is therefore no surprise that Ayodhya dumped its 58-year-old BJP MLA of 22 years in favour of Pawan Pandey, 32, a Samajwadi Party youth straight out of university politics, who focused his campaign on change.
Pandey said, “It’s time we moved on. Those who wanted to remain rooted to the past have been shown the door.”
In the larger picture, post-Babri, Muslims get more than a fair share of wooing because they are thought to impact polls by voting as a bloc. This is an over-blown myth, analysts said.
Rarely have Muslims voted as a bloc to keep Hindutva parties out. “When they see an emerging threat from Hindu nationalists threatening their identity, such as the Babri incident, they may vote tactically. When there is no such threat, they focus on larger issues such as education,” said Zoya Hasan of Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.