`Ayodhya verdict may bring Muslims in mainstream`

Ahead of the court verdict on Ayodhya dispute, a French writer on India says it would be a moment of reckoning and an opportunity for Indian leadership to bring Muslims back into mainstream.

Updated: Sep 15, 2010, 19:05 PM IST

New Delhi: Ahead of the court verdict on
Ayodhya dispute, a French writer on India says it would be a
moment of reckoning and an opportunity for Indian leadership
to bring Muslims back into mainstream.

"September 24 would be the next turning point in India`s
history. I hope the judges are aware of it. There should be
efforts for reconciliation and the initiative should come from
the Hindutva forces. Triumphant attitude on their part would
invite trouble," said Dr Christophe Jaffrelot, who teaches
South Asian Politics and History at Sciences Po in Paris.

The author said the saffron brigade will have to think
twice before relaunching the tirade against Muslims as the
middle class has taken a stand against it in 2009 Lok Sabha
elections.

For Muslims, he said, an unfavourable judgement would be
like a double-edged sword as it could be seen as accepting
defeat again and again.

"It`s the time to show that Muslims are part of India and
change their psyche of fear. Me and my research students
surveyed 12 Indian cities and most of Muslims there see
demolition of Babri Masjid as a turning point," said
Jaffrelot, speaking at the launch of his book, "Religion,
Caste and Politics in India".

He said Rajiv Gandhi was indirectly responsible for
demolition of Babri Masjid as he tried to play one community
against the other.

"From Shah Bano case to opening up of the Masjid on VHP`s
request to launching his election campaign from Faizabad
calling it Ram`s land, he was playing Hindus against Muslims
and vice-versa," he said.

He, however, refused to accept that BJP is a spent force
and saw Bihar elections as a litmus test for the party.

"You cannot reduce BJP to anti-minority agenda only. They
have other cards up their sleeve. It may come to power not
because it will do something but because Congress will fail to
do things. UPA Government is divided and paralytic at the
moment and a strong PM is absent to manage the team," said
Jaffrelot.

He opined that Rahul Gandhi becoming PM in the future
depends on whether UPA comes to power again. "Congress needs a
Gandhi. Sans a Gandhi, it is faction ridden. Sharad Pawar,
Mamata Banerjee moved out when there was no Gandhi around. No
doubt Congress will promote Rahul for next PM`s job," he said.

When asked about Narender Modi`s chances to be the PM,
Jaffrelot said it can happen only by default.

"You cannot make allies with too much of extreme
agenda. Modi can be a strong leader but in that case, BJP will
run out of allies. As long as RSS has a say in appointing BJP
President, Modi has no chance," he said.

His book explores the transformation of the Nehruvian
approach, since the 1980s resting upon three pillars -
secularism and democracy in the political domain, state
intervention in economy and policy of non-alignment.

PTI