Parikrama politics: UP goes around in circles

It is 1990s all over again as VHP and Mulayam play dangerous games


Ajay Singh | August 23, 2013

Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav
Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav

The problem with religious revivalists has always been that they rarely come up with original ideas. That is exactly what has happened in Uttar Pradesh as the Akhilesh Yadav government has decided to ban the parikrama, or circumambulation, around Ayodhya that has been planned by some Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists.

Circumambulation around a religious place is an age-old ritual practice of Hinduism. Such circumambulation is regularly performed around Mathura, Kashi and Ayodhya by devotees. The proposed 20-day yatra from August 25, covering 84 kos (or nearly 200-odd kms – and hence the name ‘choryasi kos’) passes through all the districts adjoining Faizabad where Ayodhya is located.

The VHP did not hit upon a novel idea when its leaders and activists decided to take out the 84 kos parikrama. They are merely making a desperate move to revive a local ritual which was gradually fading away. There was nothing original about it. Similarly, the manner in which the Samajwadi Party (SP) regime banned the yatra and cried hoarse about not letting the communal forces have a field day in UP has a ring of familiarity around it.

The decision to ban the parikrama was certainly necessitated more by political considerations than administrative reasons. Just a day before the parikrama was to be launched, the administration was geared to make adequate arrangements. However, at the last minute it was decided to ban the yatra and deny entry into Faizabad to any person having the slightest resemblance to a sadhu. This decision provoked reactions on expected lines as the VHP once again sough to whip up passions by talking of "persecuted Hinduism", a convenient ploy to mobilise Hindus in the state. On the other hand, this gives enough scope for SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav to emerge as the saviour of Muslims against the backdrop of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s projection as the BJP's prime ministerial candidate.

There is little doubt that UP has been passing through a rough patch on account of juvenile administration of the Akhilesh Yadav and increasing criminalisation of the political culture. What appears sinister is the frequency with which conflicts of communal nature have been happening all around the state. The state intelligence headquarters is believed to have collected reports of over 100-odd minor incidents of communal nature across the state that went unreported. But the figure is indicative of the tinderbox situation in which the country's largest state is placed. This becomes rather scary if one takes into account nearly 40-odd riots that took place all over the state ever since Akhilesh Yadav took the reins.

If one recalls the 1990s when the Ram temple issue was at its peak and the state was intensely polarised on communal lines, today's scenario seems to be running on a familiar script. If the state is pushed towards intense polarisation, two key players - the RSS/VHP/BJP and Mulayam Singh Yadav - expect windfall gain at the expense of their rivals. Sadly this cynical calculation has become integral to politics being played out in UP. 



Other News

Taming turbulence in Indian aviation

The booming Indian aviation industry, among the fastest growing sectors in the world, is projected to be valued at $40 billion by 2027. But, despite robust demand for air travel across the country, more than 50 airlines have closed down in the last decade in India and most private airlines have closed with

PM Modi leaves for G7 Summit in Italy

In his first foreign visit after taking oath of office for the third time, prime minister Narendra Modi Thursday evening left for Italy to participate in the G7 Outreach Summit. “At the invitation of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, I am travelling to Apulia region in Italy to participat

Some market talk, some gossip – learnings over tea at RBI

A Fly on the RBI Wall: An Insider’s View of the Central Bank By Alpana Killawala Rupa Publications, 248 pages, Rs 595  

Coalition politics not expected to impact India’s foreign policy

Prime minister Narendra Modi has strived incessantly to bring laurels and much needed recognition for the nation since May 2014 when he was sworn in as the head of state. The poser which can be deliberated upon is this: What will be the consequential impact of the new era of coalition politics which confro

New govt`s first decision pushes for farmer welfare

The BJP-led NDA government has started its term with its first decision relating to farmer welfare. Narendra Modi took charge of office as prime minister of India for the third time on Monday, a day after he and his colleagues were sworn in by the president of India. In his fi

Narendra Modi takes oath for third term

Narendra Modi made history Sunday evening as he was sworn in by president Droupadi Murmu for a third successive term. Modi thus becomes the first prime minister since Jawaharlal Nehru to have comptered two full terms and beginning a third consecutive term. In the swearing-in c

Visionary Talk: Amitabh Gupta, Pune Police Commissioner with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now


Current Issue


Facebook Twitter Google Plus Linkedin Subscribe Newsletter