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Babri Masjid demolition broke India’s heart, says Lalu Prasad

The Supreme Court will on Tuesday commence the final hearings in the long-standing Ayodhya dispute.

india Updated: Dec 05, 2017 12:07 IST
Anirban Guha Roy
Anirban Guha Roy
Hindustan Times, Patna
‪Ram Janmabhoomi‬,‪Supreme Court of India‬,‪Ayodhya dispute‬
Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad(PTI Photo)

Former Bihar chief minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad was catapulted to the national stage when he ordered the arrest of BJP leader LK Advani in 1990, in the run-up to the eventual demolition of the Babri Masjid two years later. Advani was then marching through parts of North India on his Rath Yatra.

Twenty-five years later, Prasad says that he suspects the demolition was a ploy by right wing forces to weaken the movement for backward classes empowerment after the Mandal commission recommendations on job quotas was implemented. Edited excerpts:

How do you see 25 years of demolition of Babri Masjid?

The Sangh Parivar and its affiliates have always tried to whip up communal passion to weaken secularism despite the fact that India, since pre-independence days, has been known for her secular credentials.

Read: It was a temple and will remain one: Kar sevaks recall Babri Masjid demolition

The Babri Masjid issue was raked up just to weaken the empowerment of backward classes following the implementation of the Mandal commission report on job reservations. The demolition broke the nation’s heart and it gave a big blow to secular credentials. The wounds have still not healed after 25 years.

So you believe the demolition was part of a larger game by the BJP to weaken the backward classes movement?

Yes, it was. See, when the Mandal commission report was implemented, it brought a big social change with the voiceless getting a voice in the society. It confounded the BJP which raked up Babri Masjid.They gave a call Mandal vs Kamandal. L K Advani started a Rath Yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya to push the Hindutva agenda by arousing religious sentiments among Hindus. (Eventually) It was me, who arrested Advani, and it sent a signal across the nation and the world that India’s secular forces were still strong and capable of fighting fascist forces.

Read: Ram temple: Will Yogi finish what Kalyan started?

Can you recall the days before the demolition of Babri Masjid?

Those were eventful days. As a chief minister, I attended the national integration council in November 1992 just weeks before the demolition. In the meeting, L K Advani as BJP president assured us that there would be only parikrama of kar sevaks and the mosque would not be demolished. It was an assurance that then Prime Minister P V Narshima Rao took seriously and paid a heavy price. Rao was misled and the central government became lax in handling the volatile situation.

What is your take on the present situation in the country? Do you feel Babri Majsid demolition changed the political dynamics of the country?

Now in power, the BJP is once again playing on old issues, be it Babri Masjid or triple talaq just to divide the nation and influence the youth by fanning communal passions. This is a strategic ploy to divert attention from the country’s burning issues be it unemployment, farmers distress, demonetisation and GST (goods and services tax). The central government has failed on all fronts and is only playing the politics of religion. But such attempts to impose renewed Hindtuva will never succeed as the people have realised the BJP’s ulterior motives and how it has no wherewithal to address the core issues. In the coming elections, people will reject the forces trying to divide the nation by giving a big mandate to secular forces.

First Published: Dec 05, 2017 12:07 IST