New Delhi, Oct. 15: Mulayam Singh Yadav could be accorded pride of place alongside Nitish Kumar, Prakash Karat, A.B. Bardhan and other “secular” standard-bearers at a Delhi convention on October 30 against Narendra Modi, but some perceived flip-flops have dented the Samajwadi boss’s credentials.
The latest challenge to Mulayam’s ability to emerge as the nucleus of a “secular” front against Modi came last week. His party’s government in Uttar Pradesh issued a communiqué saying a meeting would be convened to discuss the “reconstruction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya on the lines of the Somnath temple”.
Azam Khan, feisty minister and Mulayam’s minority poster boy, cried foul and demanded an explanation on the bulletin, issued by the state home department.
Officials claimed that the language was “incorrect” and pinned down the erroneous sentence to a junior official’s “folly”. However, sources in Lucknow said the explanation was “too pat”.
For the past few months, Pulok Basu, a retired Allahabad High Court judge, has confabulated with local stakeholders, apparently in search of a resolution to the Ayodhya impasse. Those consulted included representatives of both communities, but not the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).
One Basu formula envisaged building a temple on the spot where now rests Ram’s idol and constructing a mosque within the acquired area, about 300 metres from the original location of the Babri mosque.
Samajwadi sources said Mulayam had “watched” Basu’s moves and even felt some of his proposals could be considered. “Netaji’s (as Mulayam is called by colleagues) confidence arose from his perception that the BJP’s pre-eminence in Ayodhya was demolished after it lost seats in the region (in the 2012 state elections) and the feeling that locals wanted a solution once and for all,” a source said.
Mulayam’s party won decisively last year not just with the votes of its core supporters, the Yadavs and Muslims, but also upper castes who tip the balance in many seats.
But the crackdown that followed the Muzaffarnagar violence as well as the suspension of bureaucrat Durga Shakti Nagpal, ostensibly on charges of bringing down a mosque wall in Noida, the Samajwadi feedback is that the Brahmins, Thakurs, Kayasthas and the Banias are “upset” with Mulayam.
The “temple” sop, Samajwadi sources conceded, could be intended to please the upper castes.
But apparently realising that few would bite the bait, the state government headed by Mulayam’s son Akhilesh suspended one home department official, shunted another and banned the second leg of a VHP yatra from October 18 for the temple.
Left sources stressed Mulayam’s “secular” antecedents were “still impeccable”. “We have to go by the actions of the Uttar Pradesh government and not by political spins,” a Left leader said.