New Delhi, Aug. 21: The BJP appears wary of associating itself with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Ayodhya yatra to resurrect its demand for a Ram temple on the site of the razed Babri Masjid, at least for now.
Senior Uttar Pradesh BJP leader and Lucknow MLA, Kalraj Mishra, said while the party condemned the Samajwadi Party government for banning the yatra, it did not intend to join it like it had done in the 1990s.
If there is a “serious” government-VHP confrontation — the VHP has said it will go ahead despite the ban — then “we will take a call,” Mishra said.
Former Bajrang Dal president and the BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP, Vinay Katiyar, endorsed the view.
Katiyar said the Akhilesh Yadav government had buckled under pressure from a “senior minister”. The reference was to Azam Khan who had condemned Samajwadi president Mulayam Singh Yadav’s meeting with VHP representatives last week on the yatra.
VHP leader and former MP Swami Chinmayanand said they had asked Mulayam to persuade Muslim leaders to relinquish their claim over the “disputed” land and allow a temple to be built.
Khan, the urban development minister and a founder of the Babri Masjid Action Committee, said Mulayam should not have “entertained” the VHP delegation. The meeting had sent a “wrong signal” to Muslims who, he said, “continued to nurse the wounds inflicted by the Babri demolition”.
Mishra said the BJP was keen not to project the VHP’s “84 kos parikrama” (peregrination) as a Hindu-Muslim issue.
“The Samajwadi is projecting it in communal terms to get votes. But Muslims have become wiser with experience and will hopefully not fall into its trap. We feel both Hindus and Muslims of Uttar Pradesh have moved beyond Ayodhya to matters of governance and development. There may be bad elements in both the communities but we cannot tar a community because of them. Times have changed but the Samajwadi lives in the past,” he said.