Mulayam ‘regrets’ firing on Kar Sevaks in Ayodhya
Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav on Saturday once again raked up the Ayodhya controversy by expressing regret over ordering the firing on Kar Sevaks during his tenure.
He said the action had been necessary to uphold the “Muslim community’s faith” and preserve the “unity of the country”.
This is not the first time Mr. Yadav has expressed regret over the incident — as recently as January he had said he “felt sad” for ordering the firing on kar sevaks in Ayodhya on October 30, 1990.
“I regret giving orders to shoot kar sevaks at Ayodhya. My decision to order firing at kar sevaks was to save Muslim minorities. This decision was needed to keep the faith of Muslims in this country intact,” Mr. Yadav reportedly said at a book launch here.
Sixteen persons died in the incident on that day but Mr. Singh said “even if 30 had died” he would have issued the same order as there was “no other option available then”.
He also recalled the protests and condemnation he faced in the aftermath.
Mr. Yadav evoked the Ayodhya incident a day after he expressed regret over aligning with former U.P. Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, under whose watch the Babri Masjid was demolished in Ayodhya by Hindutva activists.
Mr. Yadav had joined hands with the BJP leader in 2009. He admitted it was terrible mistake that cost his party dearly. “It was because of the damage to the party that I withdrew [my support] later,” Mr. Yadav said while addressing party workers on the birthday of senior colleague Bhagwati Singh on Friday.
BJP hits back
BJP state spokesperson Manoj Mishra said Mr. Yadav’s comments amounted to “rubbing salts” on wounds.
He accused Mr. Yadav of resorting to polarisation. “There is a difference between polarisation and maintaining national unity. What message is he trying to give by raking up this old episode? It seems he wants communal division in the 2017 elections,” Dr. Mishra said.
Observers feel Mr. Yadav makes such comments from time to time to balance his equation and appeal among both Hindus and Muslims. The SP relies heavily on the Muslim vote but also wants to correct its image among Hindus as it fears alienation from them would benefit the BJP.
In January, when the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) triggered a fresh debate on the Ram Mandir issue, Mr. Yadav had voiced similar sentiments. In June 2013 too he had said the decision to order firing on kar sevaks was “painful” but that he had no other choice.
His comments, in an interview to a television channel, had come soon after Amit Shah, now BJP chief, visited Ayodhya and vowed the temple would be built in the Uttar Pradesh town.
Two months after that, the VHP led a controversial 84-Kosi Parikrama Yatra in Ayodhya, defying prohibitory orders and staging a confrontation with the Akhilesh Yadav government. Opposition parties then accused the SP of a tacit deal with the BJP to polarise voters for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.