North India

Unravelling the mystery of Oppn’s silence on Gyanvapi

Earlier, during the Assembly polls, Akhilesh Yadav had made a remark about the tendency among Hindus to place a stone and start worshipping it.

Lucknow: Having realised the ‘power of the Hindu vote’ in elections in India after 2014, the Gyanvapi mosque controversy has put the opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh in a Catch 22 situation.

The opposition parties, particularly those in Uttar Pradesh, are unable to take a stand on the issue. If they back the Hindu petitioners, they will lose out on Muslim support, and if they side with the Muslims, they will be dubbed ‘anti-Hindu’.

The Samajwadi Party, which is the main opposition party in Uttar Pradesh, has avoided taking a clear stand on the Varanasi verdict on the Gyanvapi controversy though Akhilesh Yadav has been accusing the BJP of stoking communal issues for electoral gains.

Earlier, during the Assembly polls, Akhilesh Yadav had made a remark about the tendency among Hindus to place a stone and start worshipping it. The entire BJP workforce came down on him accusing him of insulting the Hindu religion.

The inherent power of such allegations has forced Akhilesh Yadav to beat a hasty retreat.

The Samajwadi Party chief realises that for his political survival, he needs the support of Muslims as well as Hindus, and taking sides on the Gyanvapi row will pit him against one community or the other.

The losses that the SP faced in the Lok Sabha by-elections in Azamgarh and Rampur – both Muslim dominated seats – has further unnerved the party leadership.

None of the top SP leaders, barring Muslim MPs like Shafiqur Rehman Barq and S.T. Hasan, have voiced their opinion on the issue.

The Bahujan Samaj Party faces a similar dilemma and the party has also not gone beyond issuing a customary statement criticising the BJP for disturbing communal harmony in the country.

The BSP has been renewing efforts to win over Muslims who are said to be disillusioned with the Samajwadi Party after the assembly polls.

But while BSP president Mayawati may have been making efforts to woo Muslims back into her party fold, her nervousness over the Varanasi verdict and inability to take a stand is leaving her party workers confused.

A former Muslim BSP MLA said, “When we talk to our people, they want to know the BSP posture on Kashi and Mathura and we have no answer for it because our leader seems undecided.”

What is politically significant in the situation is the silence of the BJP’s allies who have, so far, refused to be drawn into the controversy.

The Apna Dal and the Nishad Party have not issued any statement on the Gyanvapi issue, which indicates that they are playing it safe and also do not wish to upset their caste equations with the minorities.

The Congress, too, has maintained a studied silence on the issue and its leaders, who often go overboard in voicing their opinion on such issues, have remained quiet this time.


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