Days after the Uttar Pradesh government denied the Vishwa Hindu Parishad permission for the yatra, the row has gained a religious-political colour.
The Uttar Pradesh government should give permission to the VHP's proposed yatra from Ayodhya by taking certain precautionary measures, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader M Venkaiah Naidu said. The state government had banned the 'chaurasi kosi padyatra' citing security reasons.
"Let's see what the VHP is going to do. It is a democratic country. Permission should be given and precautions can be taken. They can be given needed guidelines also. There are lot of yatras going around in the country. How do you prevent one particular community from taking out yatra," Venkaiah asked.
The Janata Dal-United on Wednesday termed as "absurd" VHP Ashok Singhal's threat to the UP 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 the kedaar of Hindus? I am also a Hindu. Will he decide for me? What is this VHP? Is it some United Nations Organisation? Who accepts the 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 the BJP saying, "kaath ki hanndi baar baar nahin chadhati (you cannot encash an issue again and again)". He said the Bharatiya Janata Party could polarise some votes in past on the Ayodhya issue due the caste controversy over Mandal Commission reservation for OBCs.
Yadav also rejected the majority minority polarisation talk, saying "who is majority and who is minority in this country. There are lakhs and lakhs of castes in all communities
Accusing Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav of buckling under pressure of his party colleague Azam Khan in banning its proposed yatra, the VHP had on Tuesday said that it will go ahead with its plan. Singhal also warned the UP government of "adverse consequences" if it used force to enforce the ban.
Singhal said Yadav was receptive to them when he met him on August 17 to seek his party's support for the 20-day yatra. "We were shocked when we came to know of the government's decision. The leader representing Muslims in his party had showed his displeasure over the meeting and Yadav apparently succumbed under pressure," Singhal said in an apparent reference to Khan, who is a minister in UP government.
Khan had expressed disapproval over the meeting and said it would send wrong signals to the Muslim community.
The Congress accused the BJP oftrying to "communalise and polarise" politics to win elections as a controversy kicked up over the ban on VHP's yatra.
Party general secretary Digvijay Singh said it was "obvious from the day Amit Shah (Narendra Modi's close aide) was made the BJP general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh" by BJP President Rajnath Singh.
"There is nothing new in it. There is no surprise. Because that is their agenda -- communalise, polarise and try to win an election. That is BJP's formula, the BJP's strategy from the beginning. What is so new about it," he told reporters.