VHP yatra row: BJP, Congress in war of words

Vishwa Hindu Parishad has threatened to go ahead with its proposed yatra from Ayodhya.

New Delhi: The Congress on Wednesday accused the BJP of trying to "communalise and polarise" politics to win elections as a row raged over Vishwa Hindu Parishad`s threat to go ahead with its proposed yatra from Ayodhya defying a ban by Uttar Pradesh government while BJP favoured allowing the event.

The Parishad, for its part, wanted the Uttar Pradesh government to reconsider its decision to disallow the yatra.

Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh said it was "obvious from the day Amit Shah (Narendra Modi`s close aide) was made BJP general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh. There is nothing new in it....Because that is their agenda--communalise, polarise and try to win an election. That is BJP`s formula, BJP`s strategy from the beginning".

JD(U) termed as "absurd" VHP president Ashok Singhal`s threat to the state government that it will face "adverse consequences" if force was used to enforce a ban on its proposed yatra.

"Who is he (Singhal)? Is he a thekedaar of Hindus? I am also a Hindu. Will he decide for me? What is this VHP? Who accepts VHP as the leader of Hindus? Who is he to issue threats," party president Sharad Yadav said.

He dismissed suggestions that the Yatra, which is an attempt to garner support for the Ram Temple issue, could lead to polarisation of votes in favour of BJP saying, "kaath ki hanndi baar baar nahin chadhati (you cannot milk an issue again and again)". Meanwhile, the Union Home Ministry had advised UP government a fortnight ago to take precautionary measures following inputs from intelligence agencies that some fundamentalist groups may try to whip passion among communities ahead of Lok Sabha elections.

The state government`s action against the yatra came after the Home Ministry`s advisory, sources said. Yadav said BJP could polarise some votes in the past on
the Ayodhya issue due the controversy over Mandal Commission for reservation for OBCs.

Accusing Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav of buckling under pressure of his party colleague Azam Khan in banning its proposed `84-kosi padyatra`, VHP said it will go ahead with the plan.

Khan said the decision to ban the yatra was taken because Uttar Pradesh government did not want any law-and-order problem.

"Our government would ensure there is no law and order problem", he said.

Favouring that VHP be allowed to take out the yatra, BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley said, "This is not a protest by VHP where some million people are participating. If a few saints want to participate in yatra, I don`t think there would be a sense of chaos in UP".

"If there is a law-and-order problem, the police machinery could step in but by banning the yatra, they brought it to the centre stage, which is something that UP government could have avoided", he said.

Ram Madhav of RSS asked the UP government to reconsider its decision to ban the yatra which is a "tradition".

"The government should reconsider the decision. This is a tradition and it will continue. We are appealing to the state government that it should change its stance on the yatra and let it continue".