Bangalore, Aug 22: The growing controversy over the Vishwa Hindu Parishad's (VHP) proposed rally in Ayodhya has put the Congress in a state of worry. The party feels that the escalating tension between the saffron camp and the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh over the Chaurasi Kos Padyatra (84-miles rally) could polarise the Hindu votes in the state, harming its electoral prospects the most.
The Congress leadership feels that the SP is deliberately toying with communal politics for it wants to win back the minority votes that had dumped it in 2009 after Mulayam entered into an alliance with controversial former BJP chief minister of UP, Kalyan Singh.
The SP chief's aim of consolidating the backward classes' votes backfired and after his party saw a massive downfall in the parliamentary elections, he severed ties with Singh and apologised to the minority electorate. The SP came back to power in the state with a huge mandate in 2012.
The Congress thinks that Mulayam, who perhaps will give a last shot at the prime minister's post in 2014, is desperate to consolidate his pro-minority image. A day after banning the VHP rally, the SP government of his son Akhilesh Yadav announced a massive minority sop, which strengthened the apprehension that the party was looking to ultilise the VHP's saffron rally, in the guise of 'secularism'.
The warning aired by senior party leader Azam Khan following the meeting between the VHP and SP leadership perhaps pushed the state government more. The state administration has already sealed six districts adjacent to Ayodhya so that no rally can enter those areas and create a communal tension.
The BJP will welcome the situation. A section in the party wants Narendra Modi, its face for the next Lok Sabha polls, to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Uttar Pradesh and the polarisation factor will keep the party excited. Is Rahul Gandhi, who had put up a commendable performance in UP in 2009, listening?