How the Babri demolition changed politics

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New Delhi:  As Parliament readies to debate the Liberhan Commission report, we take a look at how the demolition of the Babri mosque affected Indian politics in the years after.

Did it prove beneficial for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the long run and did Congress come out unscathed? NDTV spoke to current day politicians and commentators.

"Terrorism in India is the result of what happened in Ayodhya. Before the Babri Masjid was demolished, there were stray terrorist incidents in Kashmir, but the rest of India remained untouched. Now it's everywhere," says Devi Das Bijlani.

Not the words of an analyst, just how a father explained the death of his son at the Sankat Mochan terror attack of Varanasi in 2006. So many years later, the wounds of December 6, 1992, haven't healed.

From the Mumbai riots of 1993 to the Karsevak linked Gujarat riots of 2002 to this attack on a temple, interrogation reports of alleged perpetrators always have one constant refrain - the Babri mosque demolition as a motivator.

"It was the first time that we saw such fractured politics, that was a real attack on the secular quality of our country," says Rajya Sabha member Shyam Benegal.

The political fallout of the Babri demolition was immediate, but not long lasting. The BJP, which was banking on the polarisation of Hindu-Muslim votes, lost in Uttar Pradesh in 1993 but emerged a national winner for the first time in 1996.

But the benefits didn't last forever.

"The Hindutva movement didn't go anywhere. BJP lost and even to come to power in the Center, they had to take a centrist position," said Mark Tully.

Which may be why the promise of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya still exists on the BJP's manifesto, but is hardly the highlight of election rallies.

"Do you think that your party took political benefit out of it? No, I think it was the Congress which politicised it. They used it that way not us," said BJP MP Shahnawaz Hussain.

"I think it tested us as a nation but I think that we have overcome it," says Congress MP Salman Khurshid.

It's a hot potato in Parliament but does the issue still resonate with voters? Many feel that Indian politics has gone beyond Babri.

"With so many young voters, I think politics has gone beyond such communalism," says young Congress MP Milind Deora.

But what they all agree on is that it's difficult to move on until those responsible are punished.

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