After surprising many by winning the Ayodhya seat in the 2012 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections in which the Samajwadi Party got a handsome victory margin, an overjoyed party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had famously remarked: “Now, Ayodhya has forgiven me.” He was referring to the police firing he had ordered on kar sevaks in the temple town in 1990 as the then chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.
After the firing the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) caustically gave him the epithet Maulana Mulayam, which is believed to have helped the feisty former wrestler from Etawah win the loyalty of Muslims across the state.
Twenty three years after the controversial firing — which helped both Mulayam and the saffron brigade consolidate their holds on their respective vote banks — the VHP and Mulayam have decided to open the Ayodhya chapter all over again ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
After Mulayam said at an election rally in Mainpur on February 6 that if he had not ordered the police to fire on kar sevaks aiming to storm the disputed structure at Ayodhya the Muslim community’s trust in the SP chief would have been shattered.
Quick to react to the statement, the VHP has decided to conduct mass mobilisation campaigns spearheaded by sadhus against the SP chief.
Political observers feel that after the recent communal riots in Muzaffarnagar, Mulayam has deliberately harked back to the past in a bid to re-engage Muslims, who are unhappy with the SP government’s handling of the riots. Azam Khan, the Muslim face of the ruling party, has of late been saying that “post 1990, Mulayam Singh Yadav doesn’t need a certificate from anyone about his secular credentials”. But the saffron brigade too is looking for gains by targeting Mulayam and consolidating the anti-Mulayam vote bank.
“He (Mulayam) is again speaking a divisive language for electoral gains. We will definitely sensitise the masses against a politician who is indulging in such blatant appeasement politics,” Varanasi-based Shankaracharya Narendranand Saraswati told HT on the phone. Narendranand said he has lined up public meetings at various places across the state and outside at which he would take up issues of “public and national interest”. This includes Mulayam justifying the police firing in Ayodhya in 1990.
The VHP’s Ayodhya office bearer Sharad Sharma said the saffron outfit would back four yatras to be conducted by sadhus across the state to moblise support against Mulayam.
The yatras would also be utilised by the VHP to drum up support for the BJP’s PM candidate, Narendra Modi. “Either Mulayam should apologise for his divisive remark else we will mobilise public opinion against him,” said Sharma.
Throughout the yatras, the VHP plans to distribute pamphlets listing what saffron leaders describe as “Mulayam’s anti-Hindu acts”. Vinod Bansal, the VHP’s Delhi-based media in-charge said, “We are getting literature prepared against Mulayam. This would include the alleged atrocities committed on saints under the Samajwadi Party rule, the number of many kar sevaks killed in the police firing and the number of Hindu religious leaders jailed.”