As the day of judgement on the Ayodhya dispute approaches, Sangh Parivar organisations have begun chanting the slogans of a Ram temple there.
The demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992 and the campaign for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya has been a big setback for the politics of this country.
The real issues affecting the people -- poverty, unemployment, paucity of resources, the agrarian crisis, corruption, etc -- were pushed into the background.
While the people grappled with this emotive issue, economic policies were implemented which have benefited only the corporate sector.
We were fortunate that the National Democratic Alliance was defeated in the 2004 general election and the United Progressive Alliance came to power.
With the Right To Information Act, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Forest Rights and the forthcoming Food Security Act, at least there is a semblance of policy- making in favour of the common citizens of this country.
Had the NDA continued in power, it is not clear if this country would have moved beyond the Ram temple and Ram Setu issues.
On the other hand, the demolition of the Babri Masjid was followed by serial bomb blasts and various terrorist incidents. In this sense the origin of terrorism in India can be traced to the Babri Masjid demolition.
How can we forget that then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh made a mockery of his commitment to the Supreme Court to protect the Constitution?
A host of Muslim youth languish in different jails all over the country merely on the basis of suspicion, whereas not a single person involved in the Babri Masjid demolition is in jail today. This reflects the communalisation of various governments and administration.
Communalism is not compatible with the concept of democracy because it is sectarian thinking. On the other hand, it can only degenerate into fascism.
We are fortunate that the people of UP and the country have rejected this brand of politics. We hope that they will not be fooled by this politics again.
To derive political mileage out of people's religious sentiments is utterly unethical.
People should respect the judgment on the Ayodhya dispute. The party which is not happy with the judgment always has the option of approaching the Supreme Court. However, to instigate people's religious feelings by taking the issue to the streets would be unConstitutional.
The Sangh Parivar organisations have already become active on this issue. Hanuman Chalisa recitations are going on in some temples in Ayodhya for the construction of the Ram temple. SMS messages are in circulation.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad President Ashok Singhal has claimed that stones are being cut at Karsewakpuram in Ayodhya for temple construction and about half the work is complete.
Such activities are, actually, contempt of court. The court must, suo moto, take this into consideration.
For the people of Ayodhya and the country, the Babri Masjid-Ram temple issue is not a real one. It has been foisted upon them.
A dialogue with common people will reveal in Ayodhya how they have gotten sick of this issue. Their lives have been adversely affected.
The continuous presence of security forces is a cause of tension. There is danger of a curfew being imposed at the slightest provocation.
The stream of worshippers to temples other than that of the makeshift Ram Lalla temple at the disputed site, has diminished, affecting the economy of Ayodhya.
The livelihood of a large number of families in Ayodhya depends on the temples. From growing flowers offered in temples to the making of other materials used in worship, common families, including Muslims, are involved.
We expect the UP government to deal strictly with anybody trying to take political advantage of the forthcoming court decision. We cannot afford to give a free hand to forces who want to provoke communal riots in the country.
The heightened activity of the Sangh Parivar indicates that they may not accept a decision which goes against them.
If the state and central governments put their foot down and the common people refuse to be moved by communal instigation, the atmosphere of peace and harmony will prevail.
In reality, the Sangh Parivar finds itself in a bind with respect to the Ram temple construction issue. So far, this issue has only been used to promote the politics of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
If they were really interested in making a Ram temple they would have demonstrated the kind of political will which Mayawati has displayed in UP.
She has built Dalit memorials on government land, after felling trees, with public money, right in the heart of the capital city, after enacting a suitable law.
But the Sangh Parivar was never interested in constructing the temple. They merely wanted to exploit it politically, which would not have been possible once the temple was built.
If the Sangh Parivar is actually interested in constructing a Ram temple in Ayodhya, why doesn't it do so on the land of Karsewakpuram owned by the VHP?
Why is it necessary to construct the temple on the disputed land?
They can build a grand temple and set to rest the dispute forever. Will it demonstrate magnanimity?
Sandeep Pandey is an alumnus of IIT-Kanpur and the University of California, Berkley. He was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay award in 2002.