It could not have been more similar. In the late 1980s, when the country was gradually heading for an economic disaster, the communal politics was witnessing a period of glory. In 2013, as the rupee continues to tumble and alarms are being raised about an impending crisis, a renewed effort of re-igniting the communal wave in the same old Uttar Pradesh is gaining prominence.
Are we inching towards another disaster?
Latest reports said prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC have been imposed in places like Ambedkar Nagar, Basti, Bahraich, Gonda, Faizabad and Barabanki. The Samajwadi Party (SP) government of Uttar Pradesh did not give permission to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to conduct the Chaurasi Kos Yatra (yatra of 84 miles) at and around Ayodhya while the latter said it was determined to go ahead. Many are seeing a 1990-like situation when Mulayam Singh Yadav, the SP chief, was the chief minister of UP. Is the face-off a staged one for mutual benefit between the 'communal' and 'secular' forces?
SP's massive minority sop just a day after denying permission to VHP?
Why did the SP government announce a massive pro-minority sop a day after denying permission to the VHP's rally? The UP cabinet has approved a proposal to carve out 20 per cent of allocations for minorities in as many as 85 welfare schemes spread through 30 departments. Two panels will be constituted to monitor the implementation of the rule and two minority members will also be involved in monitoring the procedure.
'Welfare' timing couldn't have been better for the Akhilesh govt
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said his government was fulfilling the promise made in its election manifesto that it would implement recommendations of the Sachar Committee and Ranganath Mishra Committee reports. Well, Mr chief minister, what about the timing of the sops? And also, why no clear stand on the issue of demography-based reservations to the minorities, another poll promise that your government had made?
Nice chance to bury criticism and prepare for the Lok Sabha polls
The Akhilesh government, which has come under serious criticism in the recent past over a number of issues, has found a great opportunity to regain a momentum ahead of the crucial Lok Sabha polls by means of capitalising the anti-saffron sentiments. Mulayam Singh Yadav is perhaps the most ambitious politician eyeing the post of the prime minister at the moment and he would leave no stone unturned to reach his goal.
The VHP's plan to revive the Ram Mandir issue would make them glad for with this comes a golden chance to reproduce the favourite card of communal politics. Yes, the SP is no less communal for the variety of secularism that the anti-Sangh Parivar forces in India practise is in effect, a reverse communalism. Just like nationalism grows as an anti-thesis to imperialism but eventually follows the latter's way, so is the Indian variety of secularism. It mocks communalism but eventually imitates it, even if in a softer manner.
Senior SP leader Azam Khan's remark that the minorities did not accept the meeting between the VHP and SP leadership over the rally with a happy mind. This remark perhaps pushed the SP more to cash in on the opportunity that was created by the VHP's plan. What can follow from here on is not difficult for India to assume.
Also notable is the Centre's silence in the episode which could snowball into a major issue in no time. History accuses the Congress of failing to prevent the dark phases of Ayodhya politics twice. In the late 1940s, former premier of the United Provinces (erstwhile Uttar Pradesh) Govind Ballabh Pant allegedly did little to tackle the growing communalisation of Ayodhya.
In 1992, the then Congress Prime Minister Narasimha Rao failed to prevent the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. Today, the Manmohan Singh government is yet to raise an alarm over the development between the VHP and SP.
One, however, gets the feeling that the Centre's authority has considerably weakened to curb any disruptive tendency gaining prominence in the country today. The crisis of confidence is likely to pose a serious threat to the country's harmony.