After the Varanasi court admitted the maintainability of the petition filed by five Hindu women, the Congress has maintained a safe distance from the whole controversy and has not reacted since the court order came. The Congress strategy is not to be embroiled in the controversy which will harm the party but focus on the real economic issues.
Congress leaders when approached refused to speak and said that our priorities are different from that of the BJP. The people are groaning under inflation and unemployment which are the real issues. The Bharat Jodo Yatra is to bridge the gap between the different faiths and overcome the hatred propagated by the BJP-RSS, they added.
Political analyst Shakil Akhtar said "The whole issue is to keep the pot boiling. The Congress has spoken on the issue of Bilkis Bano and not giving a commentary on the court hearings is a good thing. However, the media should stop referring to Hindu- Muslim but call them petitioners and defendants."
The Congress hopes to counter the communal issue through the Yatra. Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi has said, "the Congress party through the Yatra is attempting to undo the damage done by the BJP in the last eight years. They have divided the country."
The party leaders are terming it as a "diversionary tactic" of the ruling BJP. The Congress wants strict adherence to the provisions of the 1991 Act in letter and spirit, saying that any kind of change in the status of places of worship would lead to a massive conflict.
Seeking maintenance of status quo at the places of worship, Congress General Secretary Ajay Maken had said in May when the issue came to the fore: "The matter is under the purview of the Supreme Court and we hope justice would be delivered as the case of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute was decided on the basis of the Places of Worship Act, 1991, which says that the religious character of a place of worship shall continue to be the same as it existed on August 15, 1947."
Dubbing it a "political" move, the Congress says it is a "diversionary" tactic by the BJP to push the issues of inflation, unemployment and the falling rupee onto the back-burner.
Former Home Minister and senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram had said that the status quo at all places of worship should be maintained else it would lead to a conflict.
"Places of Worship Act was passed by the Narasimha Rao government with the lone exception of Ram Janmabhoomi. All other places should have status quo as any kind of change could lead to a huge conflict," he had said.
The Congress insists that the ideological differences with the BJP is core to the Congress politics and to fight for the people's cause is the key takeaway from the brainstorming session. But the party has now been put on test in the Gyanvapi row which could be a new controversy in political discourse. It now has to rethink its strategy on the issue.
Rajasthan's Congress Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had said, "the BJP policies are dividing the country and it is dangerous which can bring the nation to the verge of civil war. The Congress will not allow it and this yatra's focus is to counter polarisation."
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh had said that this Yatra will be a turning point in Indian politics and will mark a new beginning.